Saturday, October 18, 2014

He Did It For Us

I am up early this morning.  Combination of jet lag and a busy week for the girls (we were all asleep by 7:45 pm last night) made a 5 am wake up pretty appealing.  It's quiet, which is something you don't get a lot when on a whirlwind trip to Abu Dhabi with your awesome husband (a post coming about that later).  Between the parties, the travel, the tours, the eating (oh so much eating), Jesus and I had only sparing time to meet.

I've been unplugged from praying for people too; it was nice to get back to that.  I had a few folks on my heart, including a couple of families struggling with major health issues (adult cancer, pediatric cancer and a mystery illness).  It can be hard to pray for people whose loved ones are sick.  I know this season very well, but that doesn't make it easy to know what to ask God for on their behalf, and on top of that, be original.

Because that's what I feel like I have to do when I sit down to pray.  I have to be different, I can't just be asking for the same things all the time.

I hope the Lord finds that statement funny.  I find it scandalous and prideful as if there is something wrong with praying the same thing all the time.  I mean, c'mon!  Look at the Lord's Prayer.  I'm hoping His grace is enough to cover my obvious need to feel original.  I know He forgives me as I confess my arrogance. 

Still He took the opportunity to reset my thinking.  I began this week reading through Romans (again), which I admit I find difficult.  It is the most challenging thing I've ever read, not only from a heart perspective, but to wrap my head around.  It's hard stuff, so I have to think the Church in Rome must have spent years pouring over this letter, trying to determine how what Paul was saying applied to them and their world.

It's a layers thing - there are so many.  It's easy to apply Romans to a culture, but what happens when you start using it as a way to filter your own thoughts?

So the mental sifting began this morning in Chapter 4.  It was the question of what faith is that confronted me.  This is the chapter Paul strips back the age old Jewish claim to be the people of Abraham, demonstrating Abraham was a man of God, by faith.  His point was to show it is by faith in Jesus we gain our identity, not association with Abraham or anyone else.  Why?  Because Abraham himself was only righteous by his faith in God, or as the Amplified Version states:

No unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) concerning the promse of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God.  Fully satified and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He promised.  That is why his faith was credited to him as righteousness (right standing with God).  (Rom 4:20-22)

The word I like in there is: grew.  Clearly, this was not a one-stop-shop of faith, have it once and you are good to go.  It is a process of maturation, of being made more secure in our trust of Christ.  It is trust and trust develops over time.  I don't compare the faith I had as a new believer versus the faith I have now; just as I don't compare how well I walked as a toddler to how well I walk now (although that may not be the best example in my case, as much as I fall down),

We, in the Church, make the most grievous of errors when we tell people, especially those suffering with illness (physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional), all they need to do to get better is have more faith.  That is the worst burden you can put on someone.  You might as well put a bullet in their head.

(I'm trying to be overly-dramatic.  Yet, when we tell someone who is sick or has a loved one sick, they just need to pray more, believe better, read their Bible more, we crush them; squashing what faith they may have.  It is also blatantly untrue.  Jesus never said that, so we shouldn't either.  It is not doing for God that is required, it is resting in the trust of a good God which makes our faith possible.)

Quantity of faith has nothing to do with it; this is not a quantitative issue.  It's qualitative.  That's what Paul was saying.  He points us back to the fundamental truth of Christianity:IT IS NOT ABOUT US.

The quality of who we have faith in and trust is what matters.  That's what Paul outlines towards the end of Chapter 4, in verses 24-25, again in the Amplified.  He writes,

Righteousness, standing acceptable to God will be granted and credited to us...who believe in trust in, adhere to, and rely on God, Who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was betrayed and put to death because of our misdeeds and was raised to secure our justification (our acquittal), [making our account balance and absolving us from all guilt before God.]

Jesus didn't do what He did on Calvary for Himself.  He didn't need salvation or redemption.  We did.  He did it for us.  He did it so we could be reconciled to God, Our Father, Creator.  He did it so we could have Him living on the inside, being taught and comforted by the Holy Spirit.  Our faith does not come from what we do but what He already did.  Nothing more is required, accept only to pursue and live for that truth; and to be fostered in the love of that Greatest of Deeds.  His death for us makes faith and all the other promises of God possible.

My prayer for my friends is simply that, like I saw written in the dust at Ferrari World this past week, they would know and grow in their knowledge that Jesus loves them. 

Not they would believe harder or try hard or "weaken in faith when they consider the utter impotence of their bodies" (Rom 4:19) but be given the eyes to see all God is at work doing in their lives, so they will grow in their trust, their faith and their praise of Him who raised Christ from the dead.

I pray we will all grow in our ability to bear witness to what Christ did for us, and what He is currently doing. Look for God, friends.  He is busy, at work for the best things in your life.  Don't settle for what you can see, or what you know.  Don't settle at all, but keep striving in the most excellent way, the way of peace as the Holy Spirit mends your life from broken to whole and full to the brim.

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