Friday, March 30, 2012
Ditching Grace By Jumping Jesus
Let’s say you’re about to meet Presidents Barack Obama and George Bush. Whoa. What do you think? How do you feel? Got something you want to say? Here’s your chance.
But let’s back up and give it some context.
A foundational aspect of the New Covenant that Jesus made and keeps is that when we receive Him, He actually receives us—into Himself. The rest of our days are about getting used to our life in Him, not simply our life for Him. This being brought into Jesus actually happened when He was on the cross—we were put into Him—and reached its culmination when He rose from the dead—we were in Him on resurrection day, brand new and cool with God. (There are all kinds of references, but check out Romans 6:1-7; Ephesians 2:6-7. “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. . .”)
So think of yourself in Christ just after His resurrection. How’s your condition, there in Christ? Do you have any worries with God? Do you have a sin problem? Are you the black sheep of the family? No, not any of it is true. In Him, you’re more than magnificent; you’re perfect, just as He wanted. Whoa.
That’s our context.
Now, from your happy and secure position inside of Christ (maybe you’re in His chest, close to His heart), let’s say Jesus wants to stretch His legs and take a walk into Jerusalem. Where are you? In Christ. Naturally, people come running to you, I mean to Jesus, startled and thrilled to see Him up and about. And what is it that you know? Well, what just happened? What did Jesus just do over the last few days? He took responsibility for everyone’s sins and treated Himself as though He had done them, and made everybody in great condition with God, reconciled and everything. And no one is counting anybody’s sins anymore. (See 2 Corinthians 5:18-21) That’s what just happened, and you know it because you were included in the whole thing.
Being where you are and knowing what you know, how are you affected by seeing people running to you, to Jesus? How do they look to you, knowing what you know? Do you care for them? Have something to tell them? How does your heart feel toward them? You know EVERYTHING—the good news!—about God and them, and are motivated by that knowledge and true insight, right? As you rest in Christ, how can you not be?
Suddenly you see faces you recognize, people you know and have opinions about. From the left there’s Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and—Hey!—Bill Clinton, making their way toward you, smiles lighting their faces. Approaching from the right is George Bush, Dick Cheney, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and—Hey!—Sarah Palin, eyes wide with glee. They’re all delighted to see you, I mean to see Jesus (which is where you are), and it seems that nothing will keep them from getting to you.
And here’s your moment.
One of two things will happen. What you know will keep you secure in the truth and love of God for yourself and for the crowd, and you will speak to them and treat them accordingly, or what you know will induce you to jump out of Jesus and speak to them and treat them according to the wisdom of this world—you and the crowd will suffer. You choose.
From now through early November you and I will endure a withering and worldly barrage of information and opinion as to who should govern this country—the United States of America. If you care one whit, you’re going to have to choose your position: not Democrat or Republican or Independent, but your position in this world. Either you’re in Christ and see and know and feel and reap from there, or in your thinking you’ve jumped Jesus and you’re in this world, with knowledge and insight in keeping with it. You will be affected.
I don’t mean that you shouldn’t vote or care or have feelings for who and what party governs—I will! I do! I am saying that if you’re in Christ, one view is natural to you now, and one is not. If you wonder why love is elusive, I believe it is because of the position and view you choose: in Christ and from that vantage point (you’ll see people from the very heart of God and relative to the cross and resurrection), or outside of Christ (you’ll see people as they appear and behave alone, apart from the heart of God and unrelated to the cross and resurrection).
Here’s what the apostle Paul had to say about the effect his position in Christ had upon him:
“God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. (Whoa! God’s affection coming through Paul!) And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” (Phil 1:8-11, italics mine.)
If, indeed, our true vantage point is from Christ, in Christ, then that must and will cause our love to abound more and more because of what we know and what we see from Him and what He did—for the crowd. However, if we choose the limited, twisted knowledge and shallow insight of this world as our own, our love will not abound, we will not know what is best and pure, and the passing away passions of this world will have supplanted the eternal grace of what Christ provides for us every day.
If you want love that abounds, then think of your incredible place in Christ—think of your view from there—and don’t jump Jesus.
“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. . .”
2 Corinthians 5:16