Wednesday, August 5, 2009
a new way to live
On the first session of the first day, I heard from Dr. Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City. He talked for about 40 minutes and if I didn't hear another message the entire time, I would have had enough to chew on. Download the entire talk: the Gospel in You.
Growing up, I used to play Monopoly (always wanted to be the banker so I could organize the colored money). In Monopoly, you can get these cards called a "Get out of jail free" card. Unfortunately for us, that's how we tend to the view the gospel. You were supposed to go to jail (hell). But then you believe that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for you and now you have a get out of jail free card. That's great for eternity, but it doesn't leave you with much in the here and now. A convict who has been pardoned has no money, no job, no home--but at least he doesn't have a jail cell.
You see, if all Christ did was forgive sinners, our future would look bright but our days would look dim. The pardoned convict has to prove time and time again that he is no longer the way he was, that he can be trusted, that he can do a job well, that he can be a full-fledged member of society with all its rights and privileges.
Sound familiar? It's exhausting to feel like you have to constantly prove yourself. Believe me. I know. You see, where I work, the majority of people raise their own financial support to get paid. And because we are sinful people, our tendency is to look at that as a litmus test of--let's just be honest here--holiness. The holier you are, the more you will trust God with your mortgage payment. And when you're a paid staff in a sea of supported, there's a lot of proving that goes on. (If I had a nickel for every time I was asked, "why are you here?") It's a fair question, to be sure, but one that immediately triggers a resigned emotional response--"you're right. I don't belong. there's a clearly defined circle and I'm not in it."
I don't say this to point fingers and I certainly don't say this for pity. But that's the framework I entered with for my fourth staff training experience. And on the first session of the first day, God had this message for me: the Gospel is not about you proving yourself. You don't have to justify your existence for being here. You are here because of My Son. And that's more than enough.
Here's the thing. I live my life as if the Gospel means I'm forgiven. Period. But if Christ only forgave me, I would be like that poor convict with a get-out-of-jail-free card. No prison cell, but no money, no job, no honor. Rather, He forgives and He justifies. He validates who I am and it's not based on what I do, where I work, or how I get paid, but it's based entirely on the finished work of Jesus Christ. Every good work that Christ did gets applied to me. It's going from being a convict to receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor--and doing absolutely nothing for it.
I get the honor, the robes, the crown, the cross and the nails. And then I live for Him. Not the other way around.