Friday, February 4, 2011
I just came back from Church. That's not a the whole truth; I just came back from spending time in a building where the Church, each individual follower of Christ (and I say follower because "believer" is used lightly in society today and people often use it without much weight... to follow Jesus means something, looks drastic, radical even. To say that you believe in Jesus -yet have your life mimic the world's are just empty words to me), meets together as a whole.
I had the privilege of painting, of praying, of rejoicing over names of all who have been baptized in the past 2 years. The Lord is at hand, He is active, and believe it or not, His Spirit is at work.
I am writing this because I am irritated. I am hoping that this will be cathartic for me. Maybe, just maybe, I feel like venting too.
While I was at this specific building, constituted of these particular people, actively forming the Bride of Christ, we began to chat. The topic of choice was "what is the story of your testimony?" Wonderful. I like it. It is always refreshing to hear of how others came to experience the love of God. I say experience, because to "know" the love of God, more often than not, produces religion -- I speak from experience of course, you're reading the works of a recovering Pharisee. Ah yes, it wasn't until I experienced the love of God, in a tangible manifestation, that true change, true adoration occurred. Adoration that leads to following, to being fully confident that there's no where else you'd rather be than on the small and narrow path, following the footsteps of the Savior of sinners.
I digress. While actively listening to one woman share her story, I began to smile, to nod my head in agreement. I listened to her talk about her struggle with "religious people" and how it's not about religion, it's about Jesus. "Right on", I thought to myself. And then the conversation changed. It moved from Jesus into works. Prayer, daily devotions, discipleship, the lives of the people she was sharing the message of Jesus with -- all healthy leagalisms, I began to wonder where she was going with this? "Hmm, okay?" I thought to myself. The conversation then progressed and she began to give an account of a conversation that she had had with a friend recently, a conversation about prayer. In her words, the friend had thanked her for covering her in prayer, and her response was "don't thank me. Prayers are cheap! They don't cost me a thing."
At this point, I felt a flame light under my chair.
It continued: "my friend then asked me why God answers my prayers. It used to be that 20% of my prayers would be answered, but more recently, He's been answering about 80% of my prayers. My response to my friend was simple. 'All you have to do is open up God's word and apply what you read.'"
My blood was boiling. I then chose to pull a Lassiter and open up my mouth without the courtesy of a filter. From my little mouth came BIG words. My response:
"Um, well, you see, I would disagree with you."
Upon saying that, the focused faces suddenly looked up from their work...
"I disagree with you" I said with more confidence. "In fact, I don't think that it has ANYTHING to do with you. I believe that it has everything to do with Jesus. I believe that He acts as your MOST HIGH PRIEST, ushering you into the throne room of God. Without His blood, His life, His death, His new life, I happen to believe that You wouldn't stand a chance before the Holy of Holys. I believe, in fact, that it has nothing to do with your works, or what you 'do for God.' It has everything to do with Jesus. You see, I believe that God doesn't love you for what you do, or don't do. HE LOVES YOU FOR WHO YOU ARE."
Quiet, I surveyed the reactions around the room. I suppose you could say that I was looking for a can-I-get-a-witness? I didn't really find it. Silent, people just looked back down and continued painting.
More than that, I was angry. I completely disagreed with the premise of prayers being cheap. It costed Jesus His life. HIS LIFE. For us to be in communion with God. How can something so dear, so expensive, so costly be cheap to us? It's not even about us. No. I say not.
Torqued, I simmered down. "Why am I so mad?" I thought to myself. The answer was clear: she was taking away the glory from Jesus, and that made me mad. She wasn't getting it. It's not about her, it's not about me, it's not that either of our words are eloquent enough to reach the ears of the King. It has everything to do with the One who made it possible for us to be before the King. Everything to do with Jesus.
On my way home tonight, I started to wonder if I should feel bad for what I said; for speaking with fervor, heated in a moment of uncensored anger. Why must I feel the need to set someone straight? In the process, I likely gave off the appearance of being a white tower, perfect and without blemish. All of which I am not. Before reaching the driveway,I arrived at the conclusion that an apology would not be appropriate; I wasn't sorry for what I said. With that being said, I did recognize that my delivery was inappropriate, unnecessary even, because truth is: God does not need my defense.
At the end of the day, I hope that you know that you'll never be good enough. The revelation that God gave to me, to my heart, was that I'd never be good enough to earn His holiness. BUT Jesus was more than enough. May you come to know that the world's economy of working harder = earning more, is not God's economy. May you be liberated in that truth. In fact, God's economy operates on grace, the notion of not getting what you do deserve (life eternally apart from HIM) and getting what you don't deserve (eternal life in His presence). May you live and love for Jesus, may you abound in showing grace, and may the Lord reveal to you this day, that it's not about you. It's all about Jesus.