"...it's obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. ...For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren't smart enough or strong enough [or good enough] to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it?" (Galatians 3:1,3, The Message)
Besides giving up something unnecessary/unhelpful for Lent this year, I also wanted to add something good--specifically, something that would help me deepen my understanding and love for the cross. So I'm studying Galatians. Already it has been wonderfully fruitful and I'm beyond thankful for the way God has graciously given me a hunger for His Word.
Yesterday I read through the book of Galatians in The Message paraphrase, for a different perspective. These two verses in chapter three stopped me cold. Only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God.
I can't think of a better way to describe my journey as a Christ-follower. All these years, I thought that I had to complete by my own efforts what God had begun. I knew without a doubt that I was saved by grace alone--Ephesians 2:8-10 and all that--but I thought after that, it was up to me. I had to earn God's acceptance and approval.
Over the last few months, God has been exposing that belief for the foolish and dangerous lie that it is--and replacing it with a love for and an increased understanding of the glorious grace of the gospel. Grace that doesn't stop when I am saved, but continues to make me acceptable to God at every point of my life, so that I can approach Him not because of my own successful efforts, but because of the blood of Christ.
Why did I have such a foolish, crazy understanding for so long? It's becoming clear now: It's because I no longer had the cross in clear focus in my life. It was in my rearview mirror, a nice memory of what saved me. Foolishness.
If I had kept the cross the MAIN THING in my life, I would have known what I am now finally starting to grasp: the cross symbolizes what my independent efforts amount to. I was powerless to achieve my salvation, yes. But apart from the cross, I am also powerless to achieve any sort of sanctification or growth.
My Journey Toward a Cross Centered Life:
Part 1 - Miserable
Part 2 - Breakthrough
Part 3 - Weaving the threads together
Part 4 - Assuming the gospel
Part 5 - Legalism
Interlude - Jesus plus
Part 6 - Licentiousness
Part 7 - Puzzle pieces
Part 8 - Staggering pride
Part 9 - Never move on
What is the main thing?
Part 10 - Cross-centered days
Wrap-up - Still learning