It happened again today. It has actually been happening more and more as the days, weeks and months go on. I was sitting at my desk and I heard Matt ride up our lane on his bike. Except it wasn’t Matt, and it wasn’t his bike. For a decent number of seconds I actually believe that this has all been a big mistake; that my husband is about to walk in the door after a long day at work and greet me with a familiar “Hey wifey!” and a kiss. It’s nearly as bad as the feeling I get every morning when I wake up not just to a new day, but to an old reality.
I have said this numerous times, but I still can’t believe this is real. I can’t believe that he is gone. And it’s moments like those that make me wonder if I will ever really accept it; if it will ever feel real to me.
That being said, I had a relatively good day today (‘good’ is always relative for me now). I did two things that I haven’t done in a long while; I went for a long walk and listened to a sermon podcast. Both of these things challenged me (the walk obviously more physically than spiritually) and left me feeling better for it.
I’ve started to listen to Matt Chandler’s series on Galatians, which are really great in that they are both encouraging and challenging, uplifting and testing, inspiring and rebuking. Here are a few of the points he made which really struck me:
– Whenever the gospel is preached, powerful things happen. Sometimes those powerful things are measurable in that you’ll see a growing numeric, or you’ll see community transformation…where the gospel is faithfully proclaimed, powerful things happen. Transformation occurs.
– Wherever the Word is preached, wherever the gospel is proclaimed, powerful things happen. But here’s a thing we learn in Scripture: The gospel, as powerful as it is to transform, is frail in our flesh. Here’s what I mean by that: Although the gospel is powerful in its transforming works in our hearts, we have a tendency to drift away from the gospel and drift into one of two great perversions that have gospel loosely attached to them, but in the end are not the gospel at all.
– The one most common in our midst and the one most common in the book of Galatians is that the gospel is heard and it just seems too easy to be true. That Christ would love us, save us, and rescue us from our sins, not because of anything we do, not because of anything we have, but simply the free, unmerited grace of God bestowed upon us, seems way too easy, so we move to helping a brother out. Surely Christ can’t save me, so here’s what I’ll do: I’ll add these things to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and by doing that I’ll help God save me. In the end this is exhausting. It simply doesn’t work.
– Now, let me tell you why that simply doesn’t work and why our culture doesn’t help us. I study my Bible, I pray, I fast, I’m involved in a lot of spiritual disciplines, but I do those things because they increase my intimacy with Jesus Christ. They push me further into my relationship with Christ. I don’t do those things to be saved. I amsaved, so I do those things. Do you understand the difference? My great fear and the perversion of this lane is that they quit trusting in their relationship with Christ as salvation, and begin to trust in their religious activity.
– You can give me some stats (about Jesus), you can give me some facts, you can talk the game, but you don’t have a relationship with Christ. You just know about him. So here’s the thing I think few of us ever stop long enough to really ponder on and think on in regard to our religious activities: Are the activities of your life in regard to group Bible study, those disciplines we’ve been commanded into, is that leading you more into Jesus, or has that become an end in itself to you?
– Jesus is going to be very aggressive towards the Pharisees in John, chapter 5 when he says, “You study the Scriptures in vain because you think that in them you have life, and yet you refuse to come to me to whom those Scriptures testify.” This goes back to what we were talking about last week, that affections matter. In the reading of the Word, are you getting to Jesus? In the study of the Word, are you getting to Jesus? In your prayer life, are you getting to Jesus? In your group life, are you getting to Jesus? Is it getting you to Jesus?
– I think error number two is just as commonplace. If the gospel is here and error one is simply trying to help God save you, error number two is to hear the good news of God reconciling you to himself in Christ, and go,Hey man, that’s the greatest message ever. I’ll do whatever I want now and he’ll have to forgive me. Our lives have been so compartmentalized that the glory of Jesus Christ and the weight of the gospel has made no difference in any other aspect of our lives. You have, for whatever reason, believed you have fire insurance.
– “No, I was baptized when I was a kid. No, I go to church on the weekends. I mean, there’s no guilt and shame over sin. I don’t feel any remorse for the wickedness I do, but Christ has me. He’s going to save me.” That’s a perversion of the gospel. That’s not the gospel. The gospel is not I can do whatever I want because he’s forgiven me. How cruel would he be if that were the gospel? Try to tie that into your parenting. “I want to love you well, so just do whatever you want, no repercussions, no shaping, no discipline, no desire to mature. You just do whatever you want and we’re cool.” How wicked of a parent is that? It’s a perversion of the gospel.
Ok, I’m going to stop there. I just realised that I have nearly pasted the whole sermon here and am only half way through it – so instead I will simply put a link to the sermon at the end of this post. (I really recommend you have a listen; it’s great and it’s FREE!)
Needless to say, I have been challenged in my ‘relationship’ with Christ. I think I have always been someone who has a desire to know a lot about Jesus, but struggle to actually know Him. So this is my prayer for myself tonight:
Please forgive me for seeking to learn about you as opposed to learning to seek you. Help me to stop reading books about you and to spend more time with you.
Lord, forgive me. Lord, help me. Lord, change me.
Here’s the link: