This life in Christ is not primarily about learning more stuff. It’s almost all about the lens through which we interpret what we’re learning; the lens through which we see God and His Word. Same words, same syntax. Wildly, transformingly different result, life, home, child raising, intimacy with God. And its all depends upon the lens I chose. The lens through which I choose to see this God and His words to me.
One lens is motivated and fueled by my shame. It will distort every perfect word, every perfect truth about the nature and intention of my God. The shame started in the garden and many of us have never experienced its eradication. It will cause you to give greater importance to the “scary” words you may not understand, and devalue the overarching theme of grace and identity woven through all of it. God is not schizophrenic and neither are His words.
Crazy really. I’ve been given a completely new life, an entirely new nature, fused with Jesus. I’m fully righteous! He says He adores me and will not condemn me. He says its His responsibility and joy to grow me up into all aspects of Him. And yet, a shame identity can still paint the way I see everything. Until I rest fully upon and identify completely in the resulting power of the resurrection of Jesus from death. Or, I’ll anticipate His reaction to me to reflect a response consistent with the still uniquely failed loser I see myself and presume God does too. Whether supremely overly confident or deeply insecure, I will appeal to my “flesh”, my sanctified will power, and dead management techniques of severity to fix my failures and make me the kind of person God might one day almost like. I’ll read the Scriptures through the voice of “When will you ever get it together, do more, keep your promises, fix yourself, care enough. What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you, why don’t you? Others get this. Come on now, I’m so frustrated with you! Pull it together. Do what you say you’re going to do. Be the person I demand. I might have to spit you out of my mouth if you don’t pull it together here soon.”
But Scripture wasn’t written and doesn’t interpret itself through shame. The epistles especially are written primarily to folks with new natures; fully, though immaturely righteous, fully defined by love, and the very character of God. They do not need to be bullied, by themselves or God. They don’t need their flesh to be appealed to, in strained compliance. God appeals to us in an entirely different way. As a loving Father, He woos our new natures to come out into the light and live what we now most desire. We experience Him saying, “What you might see as nearly impossible tasks, this is who you now are! This is what you get to do! This is what your new heart longs to do! And I am astoundingly delighted at who I created. Every single moment, even in times of your failure, I am maturing you, transforming you from the inside out. Oh, by the way, on your worst day, you are the person I “demand”. I’ve already made you that. Now you just get to mature into believing it and living out of it. Relax kid. Trust Me to be great in this new you. Did I mention how much I love you?”
This limb will hold. And you my friend, are right on time.
John. One of the Three Amigos, part of the ever-growing tribe of grace.