Photo by Chad Runge / Creation Swap

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Cross

I recently had an ‘aha!’ moment. A moment when something God was teaching me really grabbed hold. The irony is, however, this revelation came to me despite myself. It seems that I wasn’t really wanting to listen to Him or to learn from Him. But I’m thankful that God looked past my reluctance. Or is it resistance?

I’ve been trying to make sense of God’s invitation, if that is what it really is, to participate with Him in our sanctifying process. The Bible makes it clear that we do have a part. 2 Peter 1:3-11 is one area in Scripture where we’re told to make sure our calling and election is sure. In that, we’re to make every effort. Isn’t that God telling us we need to do something ourselves? The question is then…why?

2 Peter 1:3-11

3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

10Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Why would God want our participation? He certainly is capable of changing us as He sees fit. I remember our pastor, Pastor Todd Stiles, commenting on this before. If I’m not mistaken, he said that this is something where God uses our efforts to work together with His divine power to bring about the change in us. He often says that there are things he can describe theologically, but spiritually speaking it goes beyond him. I agree. It seems to tie in with what James said in the Bible. In James 2:18 he says, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” And Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Maybe what’s going on here is that by allowing us to participate, God is building our faith. But it’s as we step out in faith first that brings God to action.

Seems to be so many things at work here that it’s really difficult to understand. Nonetheless, I still find myself trying to make sense of it the best that I can. Lately, I’ve been in a study where even the notion that we can do anything that would make us righteous before God is a fallacy. Not just in salvation, which I totally understand, but even afterwards as believers. I don’t totally understand that especially since when Abraham believed God, it was credited to him as righteousness.  Genesis 15:5-7  But then I read that our righteousness comes from Jesus.  Romans 3:21-26  In fact, our righteousness, apart from Jesus, is nothing BUT filthy rags.  Isaiah 64:5-7  I guess I ought to be thankful that my righteousness comes from Jesus because I KNOW how sinful my heart can be.

Which really brings me to my ‘aha’ moment. It seems that I have been trying to please God (I still don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing) by what I do. The problem is is what lies within the heart. I probably have been proud that I’ve overcome something or that I’ve had victory over some sin in my life. I seem to be taking the credit. I’m probably thinking that my righteousness is something to consider. Oh sure, God is involved. He helped me of course. **Pause** SAY WHAT? Like I’m somehow able to do anything that has any spiritual significance? Talk about arrogance. I think I have failed to see that this is ALL God. He may let me be a part, but this is still ALL God.

Really, it is all about God! My ‘aha’ moment has to do with the fact that I have nothing to bring. My empty hands, my gratitude and thankful heart maybe. But I have nothing. It’s like Paul said: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…”  Galatians 6:14  If Paul, who was perhaps the greatest apostle (aside from Jesus), says that he wishes never to boast except in the cross of Jesus, then I better pay attention. I have nothing except Christ. He is all I have and He is all I need. Praise God for Jesus!

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!”- Philippians 2:5-8

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