Monday, December 26, 2011
God In A Mess
Yesterday was a pretty lousy day. It wasn’t because lousy things happened or because good things failed to come to pass. It was because I was lousy in it. If I could have taken me out of it, everything would have been fine. No, that’s not actually in keeping with my theology, but it’s how I felt.
Grumpy. Sullen. Prickly. A don’t bug me kind of day because I was already really bugged.
Now I know all about what I could have and should have done, like sow to the Spirit (and reap eternal life), take a walk (and get refreshed), call a friend (who could tell me the gospel and build me up), turn on some good music and pray. There are surely dozens of ways by which I could have altered me in my day, but I didn’t do any of them. My didn’t want to overwhelmed my ought to. Does that ever happen to you?
Fortunately for me, Jesus has not stopped being my Shepherd. He didn’t lead me out of bondage and sin and a faulty nature only to leave me alone in freedom, righteousness and holiness. “Sorry, Ralph. It’s all up to you now.” That’s not how He works. He’s made me His house, and I’m really glad He gets to moving the furniture around and banging the cabinets a bit in order to get my attention and do something for me.
Somewhere last night around 8:15, my thoughts locked-on to Romans 8:1-2:
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”
Okay, so those are two of the greatest verses in the Bible. Still, my thinking didn’t linger for long on the there is now no condemnation part of those verses. Instead, my thinker began to reflect on what Paul wrote before those two verses. If I had been writing the book of Romans, I would have preceded Romans 8:1-2 with a brilliant treatise on Jesus’ substitutionary death, inclusive resurrection and His stunning gift of righteousness. And then I’d deliver a new chapter beginning with that incredible word, “Therefore.”
But Paul doesn’t even come close to doing that. Romans 7 is mostly a load of lament about what a loser he is and how he is assured of failing in his own fleshly strength. The things he wanted to do because he believed God, he couldn’t. The things he didn’t want to do because he believed God, he did! And Paul concludes chapter seven and sets the table for “there is now no condemnation” by a faith-building summary, I’m a wretch and a slave. How does all that go together?!
If yesterday was any indicator, it’s brilliant. I didn’t do anything right! In fact I did everything wrong. I was living out the wretch and slave thing. Yet the Spirit attracted my thoughts and set me free from an otherwise day of death. It’s who He is, it’s what He does, and I was delighted at how much better I felt. “I’m a lot like Paul,” I thought, “trying to make myself happen and work well apart from the Spirit.” I laughed, and the wretch and slave vanished. I didn’t like him anyway.
Although I’ve been made a son of God, I’ve still got a lot going on that’s not in line with that. Looking over the years of my life, I’m a mess of contradictions.
Thank God, He isn’t.
(I wrote this a while ago, and thought I'd re-post it today. I hope you benefit.)