Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Back to Basics: The Main Thing

Lately it feels like God is taking me back to the basics. As I've grown in my faith over the last eight years, I've sometimes felt proud of myself for studying deep issues or reading profound books or having insightful God seems to be gently tugging on my hand, urging me to turn around and look at what brought me here: the cross. And His grace. I think we all get so caught up in our snazzy theology that we lose sight of the main thing.

I've said before that when He wants to teach me something, it generally pops up in at least three places all at once (I guess He's learned the hard way that He has to pound it into my head if there's any hope of me getting it). Over the last week or so there seem to be a couple of themes He's weaving together as He tries to get my attention. And it all boils down to grace and the cross. Simple, really, and yet so profound I'll never wrap my brain around them fully.

First, I've been reading a fantastic book called Humility: True Greatness, by C.J. Mahaney. The book isn't actually out yet; I'm reading an advance copy in PDF format so I can review it on my blog (look for that coming soon). I can't wait to tell you how great it is. Anyway, the bottom line is that pride falls apart in the shadow of the cross. It has to. When you look up and realize where your sin landed Jesus...when you are face to face with how much your own righteousness is worth...there isn't any room for pride. You have no choice but to acknowledge that it's not about you--that it's grace. "Better to you than you deserve"--the best succinct definition of grace I think I've ever heard.

In the midst of that, I started to plod through John Piper's Don't Waste Your Life, on the recommendation of my dear friend Kathryn. I say "plod" because Piper generally makes my head hurt--but in a good way. Just lots of meat to chew on. So last night I get to chapter 3 and guess what the title is: "Boasting Only in the Cross, The Blazing Center of the Glory of God." Gee, does anyone see a theme here? That's when the lightbulb finally comes on and God smacks His forehead: "Finally! She's getting it!" :)

Here's a quote I'm still processing:

"Apart from the death of Christ, sinners get nothing but judgment. Apart from the cross of Christ, there is only condemnation. Therefore everything that you enjoy in Christ--as a Christian, as a person who trusts Christ--is owing to the death of Christ. ... One of the reasons we are not as Christ-centered and cross-saturated as we should be is that we have not realized that everything--everything good, and everything bad that God turns for the good of his redeemed children--was purchased by the death of Christ. We simply take life and breath and health and friends and everything for granted. We think it is ours by right. But the fact is that it is not ours by right."

Back to the basics: Grace, shown most magnificently at the cross. It's the main thing. Everything points here. I'm trying to let the Holy Spirit redirect my focus, that my life would be lived in light of the cross, in light of grace. These things must be at the heart of everything else I do or think or believe.

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (Galatians 6:14)

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