07 August, 2010

It's Not About You

One of my church members posted a video on Facebook last night of a little girl singing "Amazing Grace" and after watching it, I was just not able to get that wonderful hymn out of my mind. I even sang it in my sleep and woke this morning with the song running through my mind. This has had me thinking a great deal about grace this morning and where we would all be without the grace and mercy of the Lord. That is what the Gospel is all about; it is the good news that we don't need to wear ourselves out trying to be good enough to meet God's standard of holiness, but rather accept the righteousness of Christ as our own by accepting him as our Savior. The grace of God is more than you or I deserve, but God offers it to us just the same. 

As I thought on this, I began to think about how so many today have taken that grace for granted and abusing the love of God. In particular, I was thinking about how within the church we tend to misunderstand our role in this whole thing. We've made the church way too much about us, and not about Him (Jesus).  I am convinced that we far too often forget that this is God and His offer to us, and that for all the love and mercy does come with incredible responsibility on our part... and that responsibility is not to show how holy we are... but rather how holy He is. The truth of the Gospel reveals to us that it is not about our efforts to appease the holiness standard of God, but rather the Gospel is all about Jesus and what he has done for us. We simply receive what Jesus has already done for us. And here is the part that we forget... there is absolutely no room for you or I to exercise any control or power in what God is through the Gospel, but man, we sure do try to make it about us, don't we?

One of the greatest fears we have in life is the fear of not being in control. We like being in charge of things and having  at least some control in the outcome of things. This is part of the apprehension that comes to us when we must go to court, even over the most simple things and we know we are innocent. Standing before a judge or a jury who can determine your future and you have absolutely no control in their decision is frightening to most all of us. It is similar when we are facing surgery... even the most minor of surgery. It is a very uncomfortable, even frightening prospect to realize that you are going to be asleep, completely out of control over what someone else is doing to you. You are at their mercy. Deep inside, we all like to be in control, at least in some aspect, of our lives. This is a part of the old man... the sinful man, that rises up after we have been to the cross. We have "surrendered" to Christ, yet the old man in us wants to be in control. And this is evident, even in the church. People want to control what happens, control the decor of the building, control who preaches or teaches or sings, control how people dress, control how and where the money is spent.  Be honest, we've all seen the attempt to bribe that is disguised as a gift or an offering to the church. It goes like this... "If you will do "this thing" I will give "x amount of dollars". And while it may not be spoken, it is understood, "if you don't do what I want, you won't get any of my money." That's control. It's there in most, if not all, of our churches... just not always as obvious as it is in other cases. It is simply in our old nature... we want to control.

(Hang with me folks, I really am going somewhere with all of this.)

Here's the part that we often fail to see. The same Gospel that extends God's grace and mercy to us also tells us that you and I are not in control. Don't argue with me... it does! And it really is a good thing because if we will be honest, we have to admit that the more we try to control things, the more we mess things up and blow it! 
News Flash! 
God is much more qualified and does a better job at being in charge than you are! (Me included.)

I know, most of you who are reading this right now are saying, "He's not talking about me."  You are thinking that you are not included in any of this... but let me show you something to watch for and see if you see yourself in any of this. (Now try to be brutally honest with yourself for the next 2 minutes.)

We have a tendency to let the old man, that sin nature, rise up within us and we unwittingly water down the Gospel just a bit by usurping just a little control by putting our own ideas (control) in there. (Just a little bit.)

Let me illustrate this to the reader with some short examples:

- If I change "insert your choice" (the music, the pastor, the time of service, the way we present the message, the name of the church, the location of the building, etc), then we will get more people (That would be me being in control).

(Note: I did not say it is wrong to do some of these... but we need to ask who is leading and who is following.)

- If I do x,y,z or pray the right prayer, then God will surely bless me. (Uh... me trying to control.)

- You have to change the way you dress, talk, or anything else, (Yep... me again!)

- Anything we do that has to do with works equaling holiness...  (that would be us trying to be in control.)

Surrender means... surrender.
Imagine that!

The simple reality is that our flesh (old man) is at work trying to get us to try to take control. After all, shouldn't we be a bulldog for Jesus?  The flesh will whisper to us that we are doing it all for Jesus and it draws us closer to Him. The flesh tells us that we are just being the best Christian that we can be. (Again, controlling how much God is at work in our lives.) See it for what it is... We make it about us, not Him... and remember, it is all about Him. All we do is receive.  Surrender means we let God be in control.

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