Implications of our identity
Do I feel liberated, or do I feel restrained? I was forced to face this question earlier this week as an unsaved friend and I were sharing an evening of coffee and interesting conversation. She loves to read and write, so we get along swimmingly as you can imagine. As we were discussing what Oliver Twist is all about, the culture, the economy, the comparison for today-I couldn’t help myself. Often I’m in a great deal of unrest when I’m conversing with a person who is, as Jonathan Edwards famously stated, hanging over the pit of Hell by a thread. Though I can hide my discomfort quite well, I think she noticed that I was mentally predisposed at early points in our conversation. What she didn’t know was that I was waiting for the correct moment to weave the gospel into the discussion where it would not be utterly abstract to do so. I’ll spare you the details of how it came about, but when I was able to mention the person of Christ with whom I associate, you could see the immediate tension it created in her. “I’ve been wanting to ask you a question J” she started, “How can you be so happy with God hovering over you’re every move like you were incarcerated at Ohrdruf!? [Forced labor camp in Nazi Germany]”? Don’t you realize that you are being restrained by something that you can’t even be sure of? What happens if you die and you were wrong?” Fair questions. And questions that we must be prepared for. How would you answer such important questions?
Now the topic of this post is not Apologetics, loosely stated, its more about what our faith implies to us. However, we should be, as 1 pet 3:15 states, always ready to give a defense of what we believe. We know that the Christian life is more fulfilling than anything else out there, but how do we vocalize that? Her root question was indeed a question of motive. The answers I gave her were insufficient as far as she was concerned, but it helped me realize that if she is going to come to Christ it will be a work of the Holy Spirit. But answering questions like that has internal application! I walked away with a greater appreciation for the gospel. And that is what I want to resound here.
In summary, I explained that she is missing the point. God is not to be compared to a German brute, but the liberator from such a fate. His presence is a comfort psalm 46:1. We are liberated from ourselves and the material Romans 8:21, and get to experience the fullness of Joy and new life romans 6:4-6. I am assured by 1 John 3:19 and if I’m wrong, then I may echo Paul in 1 Cor 15:19. Nevertheless, I cling to the Blessed Hope Titus 2:13. Now allow me explore the implications of this very faith that we overlook too often.
What the scriptures present is possible in Christ, but often not redeemed by his people. I return to the question that got us into this discussion-In Christ, do I feel liberated or restrained? If you’re answer is the latter then you are guilty with me and we need to examine our hearts. We have the privilege to serve the one and only God with our already worthless lives. We could have all been created with all the mental functions of a cardboard box, yet we still have such a high opinion of our ‘human rights’. We have the answer to all of life’s problems, but turn to idols to comfort us. We can live detached from the material, but choose to hold on to little things or areas of our lives. And consider this: I am swift to claim, “Lord I’ll die for you!” but I miss its implications. I must be just as ready to say, “Lord, I’ll live for you!!” Wow, what a difference that makes when Jesus comes knocking to collect those areas of our hearts that we have kept on lock down. We hide the headphones under our pillow and wait for double check to be over with “…..whew! he’s gone-I thought I’d have to give them up, I got away with it!” is this how we feel? Do we see God as the oppressor and so hide “headphone” areas of our lives from him bc ‘we know best’? consider what you’re saying to God if this is you’re situation. Are you comforted with the psalmist by God’s presence in every area of your life? Can you echo him, asking God to search his ways? I know I’m not-I have to do some spring cleaning a little early, guys- how about you? And finally, how joyful am I in Him? We look at Job as an ubermench-a superman. We elevate him to a level of piety and holiness that would be sickening to him. He was a man. A sinner like you and I. he was no god, and yet we assume that we cannot experience his level of comfort and satisfaction in Christ. But we can! Isn’t that great news! We can have that very comfort. This is huge for us. Carefully consider How the scriptures can possibly prepare us for the following situation: Mike Stewart was an average man that worked a modest job. He had been a semi-religious man ever since he could remember. He churched once a week and twice during the holidays. He was the father of two little girls 7 and 4 and had been married to Lisa for 10 years. One evening he was in a hurry to get home in time to catch his favorite tv show, and was getting very irritated at the evening traffic. Finally pulling onto his street, he sped towards number 66 at the end of the meandering road. He was brought to a halt by several police cruisers blocking the way around number 45. Mike got out of his car and demanded to know what the holdup was. He got no information from the officers so he lit up a cigarette and leaned against his car, tempted to just walk the rest of the way. But mike’s apathy towards the situation soon dissipated. At that moment, the fire chief pulled up and rolling down his window began to fill the policemen in the details. Mike could barely hear them so he sauntered up as close as he could to the vehicle. “yea, the whole thing went up like a roman candle. Poor lady never had a chance. Couple of kids too had just gotten home from school. All 3 dead” Mike’s casual demeanor was immediately altered-he dropped his cigarette and his heart quickened. As the details of the fire were being filled in, he began to feel dizzy. He didn’t have the nerve to ask, so he waited for the number to be mentioned-“could have been joe’s house, he’s got a couple of kids….or that guy in 61….” Thought Mike. Finally, one of the officers asked what number the house was. The chief reply sent Mike into shock- “number 66”…..what would you do at this point? Mike just realized that his family, material possessions, and happiness all disappeared in one fell swoop.This could happen to any of our families tonight or tomorrow-what would you do? Could you echo Christ and say, “not my will but Thine be done Lord!”? This is what Job had to endure and how did he respond? “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”…..this is where it counts-in the battle. In the midst of adversity. Anyone can read about dealing with trials, But to put that into practice takes the message of fulfillment in Christ to task. Job could have dropped the ball when the rubber met the road, but he had really made Christ his full Joy. Oh that we would be strengthened by the Lord Christ and by the example of the man, Job. God help us to weigh carefully the teachings of scripture. Let us ever remember the Liberty that fulfillment in Christ offers.- ProDiligo, In love.