This is a repeat of an old post, with a new title…the old one kept getting weird spam..enjoy
Christianity…Life in Christ…is it an act of man, or is it an act of God?
If we answer with a Biblical understanding, it is an act of God to which humans surrender. God, through the cross, accomplished a great exchange, trading our need for His free gift, to which we surrender in faith.
Now try this question…
Freedom…is it an act of man, or is it an act of God?
This is the exact same question. What God offers us in Jesus Christ is not an exalted man whom we should try to follow as best as we can. Rather, again, He offers a great exchange where He trades our inability for the free gift of His ability.
We live in a time in history when western thinkers are re-learning the importance of living from our hearts. I am concerned, however, that this shift sets up a new form of law. Now, along with the requirement that we should obey rules, we also receive a new requirement, that we should be passionate followers of Jesus.
Here is what it sounds like, in sermons and conversations.
“He gave His all, should we do any less?”
“You need to decide to follow Jesus with your whole heart”
“Will you give God your everything?”
“We need to be fully devoted…”
While I may sound a bit heretical for questioning such whole hearted, passionate statements, consider this dilemma. In those statements, and others like them, do you hear anything that could not be applied to any other human, or organization? Could you not follow a political figure with your whole heart? Could you not be fully devoted to an influential poet, or rock band? You see, at the root of statements like these, is the push toward reliance on our ability, desire, or commitment to dosomething. An act of man, or an act of God? These statements push us toward relying on our passion, our devotion, or our whole-heartedness.
This is the very dilemma that the Apostle Paul addressed with the early believers in Galatians Chapter 3.
“Did you start this walk with the Lord by following the works of the law, or by believing (in Him) and receiving (what He did)?”, He asks them.
Then he follows with the crucial second question, “Then do you now live this new life by the works of the law (your ability to perform), or by believing (in Him) and receiving (what He did)?”
While it is important to love Him with our whole being, would it even be possible for us to love Him if He did not first love us?
While it is important to follow Him with our whole heart, can we manufacture this whole-heartedness without His restoration? And didn’t He “follow” , or pursue us long before we even knew it was an option to follow Him?
While our passion is a valid response to His offer, it was His Passion that opened the door for our hearts to be rightly directed. It was His passionate following of us that made it possible for our relationship with Him to be restored. It was His power in us that made us new creations, and it is His power in us that allows us to live as new creations.
I am in no way suggesting that we have no role in living an engaged relationship with our saving Father. I am however urging us to remember He is both the Authorand the Finisher of our faith. Our role is to relax and let Him do His part. Jesus tells us, “I did not come to be served, but to serve and to give My life as a ransom for many.” Here is how we can understand this; Jesus came to do the things for you that are impossible for you to accomplish without Him. This covers more territory than you think.
Jesus is really really good at Christianity, we should let Him do it.