Piecemeal.

July 27, 2010

I’m slowly beginning to sift through the material from the MABC courses I audited a couple weeks ago.  Now that the dust’s somewhat settled, I think I can start to work piecemeal through my notes (and thoughts and life and …).

I haven’t really looked through my notes yet, but in the past couple weeks, I’ve noticed themes and Scripture passages from that week of learning coloring my thinking.  It’s made me (painfully) more sensitive to the manifestations of heart idolatry in my life and, by grace, also more aware of the sweet implications of His gospel in the midst of my battles.

This past month, my old enemy, Fear of Man, revisited me — or maybe it’d be more accurate to say that he seemed more dormant than usual but suddenly woke with a vengeance.  Fear of man manifests itself in a number of ways in my life, but in one sense, “when people are big and God is small,” I’m so plagued by what others may think of me that I’m left paralyzed.  Paralyzed in my thinking, paralyzed in my pursuits.  Instead of worshiping God and being free in His gospel assessment of me, I worship people and am enslaved to their esteem.

As I was considering this battle with fear of man yesterday, the thought came: What’s the worst assessment they could make of you?  That you have fault?  That you’re not good enough?  That you’re a charlatan, a murderer in your heart?  In short, that you’re a sinner?  Even then, their assessment of you is too high, too generous.  You’re much worse even than that.

In the gospel, I find that I’m “far worse off” than imagined.  Just consider Bethlehem, Gethsemene, and Golgotha.  Just consider my Savior’s cross.  It wasn’t because I was “almost” good enough that He died for me.  In the gospel, my God has made an accurate assessment of me — “helpless,” “wretched,” “dead in sin,” “enslaved,” “desperately wicked.”  Whatever men may think of me, I am much, much worse than even the most malicious assessment.

I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
(Galatians 2:20-21)

Truly, Jesus Christ did not die for no purpose.  For what does it say of me that my sin, when placed on the Lord of glory, put Him to death, making Him the object of God’s wrath?  Can it speak of any good, any righteousness of my own, any merit?

And yet, what does His death avail?  What does His incarnation, His righteous life, His Cross, His resurrection, His ascension avail?  I am far better off than imagined: Christ lives in me.  I have been given newness of life (Romans 6:4);  the promise of becoming conformed to His image (2 Corinthians 3:18); and the promise of transformation, the fruit of His progressive work of sanctification in my life (Romans 8:29-30).  I am being made new, not by my own hand but by the power of His might to completion.

In that, what comfort and peace the gospel (and person) of Christ affords me.  What hope for the idolater.  Am I horrible, inconsiderate, unloving and unlovable?  Am I a Pharisee in casting my chief affections on appearances, reputation, and the esteem of men?  Yes, and grievously much more.  I am far worse off than could be imagined, but at the same time, I am far better off, too.  I am hidden in Christ Jesus; I am being changed — “little by little bit everyday,” as the children’s song puts it.  (And the flip side is also true.  People are much worse off than I could imagine, but what of my judgements and assessments of them?  In Christ, they are much better off than I could imagine, too.)

Praise God. He who says to Israel, “Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?” (Isaiah 2:22), also says of Israel, “I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely …” (Hosea 14:4).  So His gospel not only liberates from the fear of man, idolatry; His gospel also transforms worship to Him, the one true God.

The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips.  The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.  The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.  I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.  I have the set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
(Psalm 16:5-8)

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2 Responses to “Piecemeal.”

  1. dennarr Says:

    AMEN, AMEN, AMEN, AMEN,…and AMEN!

    Wow, “worshiping God and being free in His gospel assessment of me” is MASSIVE – especially when one fully grasps that “worship” is everything we say, do, think, etc…!

    Thanks…can’t wait for the other “pieces”!

  2. tia Says:

    dennis, you must be evc’s “worship” leader for good reason :]


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