One thing that we can never escape is the paradoxical aspect of our relationship and status with Christ. For starters, we can only come into a relationship with Jesus on His terms and at the highest of costs for God. On our end, it’s free. There is literally nothing we did to facilitate or establish the relationship. Even our decision to accept the terms is something God ordained. It’s a gift where we reap such amazing benefits and Jesus gets “stuck” with us as His bride. Our finite minds can never see that as anything but the worst deal in history for God, yet it is part of God’s perfect plan! How can that be?!
Well, according to God, we are perfectly righteous because of Jesus. That’s how He sees us. Therefore, it is NOT a bad deal in God’s eyes, but rather an expression and fulfillment of His love. So who are we to challenge that and view it differently? We said we accepted the terms and the cost, right? Herein lies the problem! When we get something for free on our side of things, we have the tendency to either not cherish it OR feel guilty that we received something we didn’t earn or “don’t deserve.” It’s common for us to be ungrateful to the point of apathy or on the other extreme strive to do something pleasing to the gift giver to the point our actions themselves become the goal, rather than our gratitude itself. We exalt our own actions above the one whose action actually initiated the exchange. That’s human nature! Jesus is the equivalent of the best gift we’ve ever received…TIMES INFINITY!!! In the face of this reality, our fleshly tendency is to only magnify our bad habits, because we recognize the cost, even though it’s free. Even though God puts no pressure on us, we know that we still have some responsibility to act in a way that shows we cherish this relationship. It’s tough not to put pressure on ourselves. So, how do we exist and thrive in this relationship?
I believe a good chunk of the answer to this question lies in some themes from the sermon our pastor spoke to us yesterday. I’ll over simplify it and not do it justice at all (sorry Pastor), but two main solutions to this issue are to 1) Remember we are “In Christ,” and 2) Remember the point of everything is to exalt God! We were cautioned about having a “Duh” response to these points (and others) — a warning I’ll pass on to you. Think about what that really means for a minute. There are a lot of references to being “In Christ” in the Bible (especially in Ephesians chapter 3), and the song In Christ Alone also comes to mind. I’ll post the last 10 lines of that song below. Our pastor used ice cubes in a glass of ice coffee to illustrate how we are not just consuming the coffee, but if we are “In Christ” then we are part of the coffee. Needless to say, all the coffee lovers in our group drank up that example. (Sorry, I can’t resist a yummy pun.) As far as exalting God goes, while we may stink at it sometimes, it’s actually simple. It doesn’t matter what thing we do, good or bad, or any strength or weakness that manifests itself in our lives, we can still choose to exalt God instead of focusing on those things about ourselves. Isn’t that God’s proper place and the perspective He is trying to instill in us? It’s kind of like how simple it is to talk to God in prayer (something God also strongly encourages!), yet we often choose to worry and let our anxieties run wild instead. I’m not saying we are going to instantly become experts, but if we make a conscious effort to shift our focus to these two mindsets — being “In Christ” and exalting God, then I think we will not only see a big difference in our lives, but also experience God in the way He designed it to be. Please spend some time considering this. As promised, here are the last 10 lines of the song In Christ Alone along with a link to the song, because all the lyrics are great!
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the pow'r of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.