02 Jan If He is peace why am I so manic
The title above is a clue to my initial thirty five year Christian journey. I have mostly read the bible every day as I am a routine sort of guy with an overly anxious sense of obligation to most things. When I was not being good this reading would make me very miserable indeed. When I seemed to have it all together and thought I pretty much have this Christian stuff all sorted, I would read and be not so sure again. I knew the moment I said the sinners prayer my slate was wiped clean, but I had better watch my step, if earthly fathers are anything to go by, they can be moody types, and this heavenly Father appeared very moody if I was reading this book right. A verse would have me sighing with relief only to read further on and I would be dismayed once again with a sense of lack or even thinking I’m totally done for. I had seen this manic depressive symptoms in others too, all gungho and then ward 17 or some such place, something is not right for sure.
I am now fully persuaded where the problem lies, it is where my focus has been, it has mostly been on me and not on Him ( grace and truth personified). I would read the scriptures with a focus always on my obligations, how I measured up, where I had fallen short. I seemed to be reading with some spiritual eyewear that was continually seeing only my navel, not healthy! The problem was not only with me, it was being preached from the pulpit too, and still is. I think one should be alert whenever the message is primarily on us or ten bullet points for walking in holiness. Our lack is not supplied by our doing but rather our supply is receiving from our only source of supply which is always freely given.
Now I have received a new set of spec’s, everything is filtered through someone else now rather than that old ‘it is all about me’. I now read everything through the truth and grace of the cross of Jesus who said of Himself that He is the Truth. The truth is He is grace (read, unmerited favour with every spiritual blessing freely given) personified. To illustrate I have just read 2 Corinthians 5. Here is a ‘before’ and ‘after’ overview of some former troubling verses;
2 Corinthians 5:8-9 NKJV
We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. …
Before grace; Well pleasing, God is perfect right …. what do I have to do to be well pleasing … anxiety begins to manifest in the pit of my stomach …. I should be out there witnessing right now…. why didn’t I fast yesterday …. Maybe when I woke up at 4.00 am it was God calling me to prayer and I went back to sleep again …. or some such internal dialogue spewed forth.
After Grace; I am always pleasing to God … why? Because the Father said “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17. and the really good news is I am placed in Jesus. (1 Corinthians 1:30) It is now all about the goodness of Jesus and not the lack of Lester (you can put your own name in here if you like), I just believe and receive, it’s that good and kind of simple. Following on I read;
2 Corinthians 5:10-11
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.
Before grace; a cold sweat is breaking out … judgement seat? all the things I have done? I am imagining a movie screen and my life playing forth like everything, all the bad stuff too, this is not good, hang down your head you sorry specimen ….I can distinctly hear the tut tutting, see the wagging finger, I’m undone for sure!!
After grace; Romans 8:1”There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus”. Yes no guilt, why? Because every sin, ‘every’ means all the bad stuff before and all sin in the future have been judged already and punished, 2000 years ago on the cross, Jesus paid for all sin. So who is Paul referring to here, if we read to the end of the chapter who talks about being ambassadors for Christ, Paul is showing empathy here for those still to come to a knowledge of Jesus as Saviour, we as readers just need to know who is being addressed here.
I don’t know who is reading this blog, you may be someone who is yet to put your trust in the one who is the way the truth and the life, or maybe you have received the free gift of salvation but are now trying to live up to a standard that is impossible to keep. I just say walk the way you received, just believe. He received you just as you are and He will perfect that work which He has begun, just put on those glasses that focus on Him and not us.