Galatians 2:20-21New International Version (NIV)
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
Great message this morning at Grace Covenant Church of Harrisonburg on Galatians 2- the Gospel of Grace! The speaker was Rev. Priscilla Reid from Ireland. Even Tom, our 14 year old grandson commented on what a powerful message it was.
I think this radical message of freedom: Grace + Nothing = Right Standing with God is connected to the concept of emptying and brokenness that I’ve been meditating on for a few days. David, after expressing his brokenness for sin in Psalm 51, then observed:
You don’t delight in burnt offerings or I’d bring them.
The sacrifice that pleases you is the offering of a broken spirit. (My paraphrase)
This brokenness I’m getting at is broader than repentance over overt rebellion. This emptying comes from a kind of despairing of producing any kind of good fruit in the power of our own flesh. The flesh can offer up all sorts of sub-biblical motives for what looks good and true and righteous- pride, fear, guilt, shame, self-righteousness, manipulation.
I’m not proposing neurotic obsession with our inner motivations; that’s another trap in the mudhole of self. But I am suggesting that there’s a certain awareness of our powerlessness that leads to a whole new level of freedom. Maybe that’s exactly what Paul was trying to express when he said, I have been crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live…Yet not I, but Christ lives in me…..
Addicts have discovered this principle, in a way, in the first two of the Twelve Steps:
Step 1, we admitted we were powerless….
Step 2, we came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us….
I think that there’s something greater, stronger, broader and more powerful here than just breaking the strongholds of addiction, as wonderful as that application is. It’s that the Good News (gospel) of grace- salvation as a free gift of pure love and favor- blows the wind of liberty through every area of life.
I discovered a really powerful application of this Principle of Grace back early in my engineering career. I’d gotten myself in a fix where my sense of identity, purpose and value were all wrapped up in work, and I made myself miserable. Every perceived failure to perform with excellence, every mistake in judgement or calculation error sent me into a vortex of depression and anxiety. But as I began to more clearly understand the Gospel of Grace- that my identity and wholeness were based on the finished work of Jesus on the cross and not on my getting everything perfect at work (or anywhere else, for that matter), I began to really relax and enjoy my work. And interestingly and somewhat ironically, I got a heck of a lot better at it as I began to allow myself to be more creative, to take some risks and try different approaches to things, and to not be afraid of investing myself in techniques and ideas that might or might not work.
That raises a whole ‘nother issue that’s probably worth a separate blog entry, or maybe a whole series: the Gospel of Grace through Christ should liberate us to be more creative in every area of life! Think of the implications for art, music, literature, technology, business, medicine, education…. I really can’t think of a reason why God’s redeemed kids shouldn’t be on the cutting edge of virtually every discipline there is. Progress comes from entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship involves creativity and risk-taking; these should be unleashed like a torrential stream through our lives by the good news of grace!