Shortcuts and hacks reflect one’s exposure and contempt over a certain process. I should not be content in one place. In Christ, the revelation of His grace continues to renew our minds, and we are transformed more and more by the renewing of our minds – it is natural that we see that in Christ, our boundaries are expanded, our opportunities grow bigger.
In Christ, the results prove to be overwhelming, each and every time. No matter where we are in the walk and life with our Savior who never leaves us, He never fails to (1) overwhelm us with His grace and mercy, and (2) humble us with His great wisdom and power. And in the overwhelming, and in the humility, there will always be peace – we are not shaken.
Yes, we will not be shaken when faced with the intimidation and the humiliation that is of the world, for we possess (and are in the possession) of a Savior who is incomparably amazing, overwhelming to the point that we are brought to sincere humility.
I find myself in a point where indeed, His grace and peace endure and burn ever so brightly within, and I am brought to discipline and self-control, not to be any closer (as Christ is as close to me, and I am as close to Christ as we would ever be), but to focus.
In the past, I have been enraptured by being in the flames and not being burned or singed; I have been amazed, as a toddler who sees the sea and immerses in the ocean for the first time. In the same spirit of wonder, I am brought calm down, and to listen to the beautiful Fourth man, who spoke to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the great Babylonian furnace; and instead of waddling around as a baby in the water, I am brought to learn how to appreciate the deep even further, by learning how to swim.
Rather, I want to focus. I want to calm down, and learn from Christ. I want to learn how to swim. I desire all this, while remaining in the wonder which captivated me and brought the Gospel from my head to my heart years ago.
“..count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:15-18
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14
“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” Romans 6:11-14
So I’m in quite the bind here. There’s discipline, and there’s the new creation. The way I see it now, we are new creations, like it or not. We are new creations, regardless of what we do, and what we don’t do. We are identified as new creations, even if the world denounces our actions.
Then there’s discipline. I asked my mom a couple of minutes ago what word came into her mind when I mentioned discipline, and she quickly responded, ‘punishment’. Now that I think of it, the word discipline is associated to ‘training’ for me. It’s not delayed gratification. I see it now as intense appreciation of who we are and what we have. It’s not delayed gratification. It’s intentional gratefulness.
I discipline myself, not with my focus on what not to do, but what to do. And what, pray tell, is there to do? There is intentional gratefulness: I take out the gift wrapping of who I am, open up the box, take out the gift, and take time to read the instruction manual, looking every now and then at the actual gift, all this time being absolutely thrilled and excited at what I have.
Can we look at self-control the same way? Can we say that by the power of Christ, and by the grace of God we control ourselves, not by keeping ourselves from doing things, but changing our minds to enjoy what we already have, and to appreciate what we can do? So instead of expressing self-control in finances by holding our money with an iron fist, we are actually calculating when and where our resources can have the greatest impact?
Clearly, it’s becoming more apparent to me that though I am here, a new creation with all the bells and whistles, that this life I live truly is no longer for myself but for everyone else. For when I serve others, I serve myself in the most efficient way. I can enjoy life, but life is more enjoyable if the people around me enjoy life as well. So the gospel ought to be preached – not just by our words, but by our unspoken acts of love to one another.
The way I see it Christ could have just stayed in heaven. He had all He needed and wanted, but we were still considered by God as His prized possession. As a result, He gave everything up to have us, because we were His everything. This, this PROFOUND love is something I ought to be eating and drinking every day… because this life has no meaning if all I have to live for is myself… Again, I enjoy this life, but I am beginning to believe that this life would be so much more motivating and inspiring if I thought of the enjoyment and needs of others as well.
It certainly helps to type all of this down. It certainly helps to have all of this on paper, because if it was just brewing in my mind, it would probably never leave there. I thank God for all the senses we have and the capability we have to infuse what we are led to think in our actions… indeed, let all the world see and know His goodness through our literal lives.
Our confidence and dependence is on Christ. The life we live is not one of living out a doctrine, but living in partnership with a living Savior. This is Christ, who saved us by uniting Himself with us; and therefore, as He is fully equipped for every good work, so are we. As God’s mercies for Christ are absolutely new every morning, so are we.
Here, yes, here we see that we are fully equipped, fully restocked each and every day – our past successes and failures can stay in the past because we are presented with new life and love, we are rendered overflowing not just as a one time deal, but on a sweet, daily basis! Indeed, we have all we need because Christ, who is alive in us, and in whom we move and have our being – we have all we need because He is alive in us, and we are alive in Him!
The moment that we realize that the Word of God which washes us and sanctifies us is not a set of words and doctrine but and actual Person, an actual Life that is Jesus Christ, this is the moment which Andrew Farley describes as the moment we say ‘Wow’, and ‘Thank You!’; As Timothy Keller would describe, these are the moments we begin, not to produce awe and admiration, but to just… wonder.
Worship follows, absolutely.
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May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you His Shalom. - Numbers 6:24-26