Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The same word rang in my ears all day whispering to my broken and sinful heart, “accepted…accepted…accepted”. I made the choice to discipline myself to hear Him at every point in my day no matter what I thought, felt, heard, saw…WAS. It is a discipline that many shy away from because it makes us uncomfortable. It made ME uncomfortable, but at the end of the literal day, I was changed and not because I was uncomfortable, but because I had encountered at every wicked thought, evil motive and selfish state, the grace of God. 

It is uncomfortable to us because it appears to be upside down. To embrace the controversy of allowing a perfect God to approach us with the word, “accepted” in spite of all the thoughts that are hurled against Him, ourselves and His creation, is counter-intuitive.

It often appears to us that we owe Him something to make up for this lack of respect; the honor that is due. Often there is a stark tendency for us to cram the awfulness further down, swallowing it like a jagged pill, expecting to offer Him something that He will eventually be impressed by because of our pious acknowledgement of what we “owe” Him. My friends and fellow rebels, this will NEVER result in His pleasure. The awfulness that we attempt to swallow and ignore will only eat us alive from the inside, out. We will always fail and lack for holiness because it is not something we can “drudge up” within ourselves. Upon the many hours of reading, Bible study and prayer, the danger is walking away feeling more worthy of the God we are serving and being better for. We accomplish the “things to do for Jesus” and we never actually encounter the acceptance that He so desperately wants us to drink from.

The redemption of this inner controversy lies in the truth that the only thing that will change us is living a life, moment by moment, in the reality that we are accepted (God’s grace). This requires a great deal of humility, because we have to actually own that we possess the awfulness. We have it. We ARE it. This makes us squirm, because it takes away all the control that we unrightfully already assume is ours. But taking this ownership of “the awful” and laying it at the foot of the cross is relinquishing control to the only one that can free us from our very selves. It also takes us out of the realm of fear and into the realm of freedom which our souls desperately long for. We thirst for the liberation that only the Spirit can bring (II Cor. 3:17).

I realize that the word, “freedom” can be taken to ungodly levels and that with “freedom comes responsibility”. I understand that “liberty is not a license to sin”, and that is NOT what I am saying. I stand with the apostle Paul in Romans 8 when he says in verse 12 & 13, “we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” But sometimes, I feel that too quickly we move to the responsibility of how we are to respond instead of actually basking in the reality that the Son has INDEED set us FREE(see John 8:36). The word, “freedom” makes us uncomfortable, I believe, because we all know very well what we are capable of and it can be scary, but freedom. Ah, freedom to love and to live as accepted creatures…changes us.

I guess my purpose in writing this comes to this point: what motivates you daily in your walk? Is your service driven by fear or faith? Where does your motivation come from? Can I challenge you to let your service, good deeds, wonderful thoughts, and the loving of others flow from His constant and unwavering acceptance of you as you are NOW…yes, now…yep…even NOW?

“We too came to believe in Christ Jesus so as to be reckoned as upright by faith in Christ and not by practicing the Law: since no human being can be found upright by keeping the Law” (Gal.2:16) “Now it is obvious that nobody is reckoned as upright in God’s sight by the Law, since the upright will live through faith (3:10-11). “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by being cursed for our sake” (3:13).

Let your service and devotion to Him flow from this place. It is a much grander place to live and serve from. A quote from one of my favorite books, (Truefaced) goes like this:
“When we swim in the ocean of God’s grace, we can’t help but respond with playful abandon. We will grin, laugh, and splash around. We will burst into a song at inappropriate times, dance, play, serve, fall on our knees in worship, give our lives away and embrace each other. We’ll sin less. We’ll love more. We are free.” Since the basis of God’s acceptance of us is because He robed us in Christ’s righteousness, His acceptance is bigger than any failure we can ever have and makes the following statements true.

“I don’t know how to pray.”—“I know your heart before you can speak it.” “I failed again.”—“I don’t love you any less.” “I have hate in my heart.”—“My love is bigger than your hate.” “I am struggling with addiction.”—“I want to free you from it.” “I just yelled at my kids.”—“I forgive you.” “I feel unworthy.”—“Accepted.” Every time. Accepted.

by Bren Warner