Writing is something that I have always wanted to do in the future. I think of it as a task that should come years down the road when I have read more, prayed more, studied more, and, if I am honest, have more letters behind my name. Writing is for the guy who has it all figured out I thought; and there is no possible way that that is me right now. I am just starting grad school as a 22 year-old, so really, what could I possibly write about that could make a difference to anyone?
It was only when I was talking to one of my close friends about this desire that he encouraged me to start writing on a weekly basis. It would be good practice and, after all, truth doesn’t change whether it comes from a scholar or a beginner or someone in between. That thought is what drove me to actually try what he recommended. Why not write about what the Bible means and how it still applies to us today as a short devotional because: 1. Truth doesn’t change. 2. The Bible as the very Word of God never changes. 3. The Bible, because it is timeless is always relevant. 4. People need to hear of God’s saving work in Christ. So, why not give individuals another opportunity to hear this amazing gospel from one more outlet? This is my desire on this blog and in life, both as a Christian generally and a minister specifically. May God glorify His name in this blog and encourage the reader by His grace.
Why Being in Christ Makes a Difference in How We See Life
Over the last week one key passage has been coming to my mind so often. It is pretty common to the average church-goer and is found in Matthew 3, more specifically it is the baptism of Jesus. Jesus, before He begins His earthly ministry that would ultimately lead to a cross and an empty tomb, first begins by being baptized by John the Baptist. He goes to the river to John in order to make this happen. The first thought that should come up is why this is necessary? In fact, John tried to prevent Him from being baptized, but Jesus, in order to relate to man fully and “fulfill all righteousness” gets in the water. The interesting part, and the one that I want to focus on is not that He was baptized, but rather what happens after it. When He gets out of the water the Holy Spirit descends on Him like a dove and the Father speaks over Him, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Now, for those that are standing by the river this is an amazing event. Imagine for a minute being there. You show up to be baptized by a man who is known as a prophet. You see him attempt to refuse baptizing someone that he is calling the Messiah, the Lamb of God, and then when this other man, after being baptized, gets out of the water a voice booms that this is the Son of God. This is an unbelievable moment. Would we be left shell-shocked, or would we follow the man? Despite disagreements on how we would react, we can all agree that this would be intriguing to witness, but the question that remains is how does that affect me today? I’m glad you asked that!
One of the biggest struggles that Christians in America face, especially those living in the Bible-Belt, is the desire to try and earn God’s favor. We may not come right out and say it, but we operate as if our performance dictates whether or not God likes us that day. If we fall into sin or struggle then God is ready to punish, but if we can manage not to screw up then everything is fine. God is our Father in the clouds that we are trying not to disappoint. And yet, is this how God actually sees us?
For those who are followers of Christ, we are in Christ and have been adopted into His family. Go back and read that statement one more time slowly. We are in Christ and have been adopted into the family of God! What an amazing place to be! Romans 8:15 says that we “did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons”. We are no longer slaves to measuring up because we are sons who are loved and delighted in. We do not earn this or work toward it, nor do we even stay in it by our own effort. Ephesians 2:8-9 credits salvation wholly to grace to completely eliminate human boasting. God will save His children from start to finish (Phil. 1:6) and He will be the One that will continue to instill the desires and abilities to work out salvation along the way (Phil. 3:12-13). God alone saves and will receive the glory.
Now back to our first passage on Jesus, how does this even relate? What this adoption into the family of God means is that for His children, God declares over them “This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.” God says this to Christ, I am in Christ and His righteousness is my own because of the cross (2 Cor. 5:21) so when God looks at me He sees Jesus. I am His child! He delights in me today and not some future version of me when I get my life all together. He actually likes me today. In my struggle and sin, He looks at His child and says “I love you son.” No sin will hinder this love and no accomplishment increase it. I can rest and continue to live for Him because I know that I am already accepted.
Do you feel this in your own life? When you think of God as Father do you first think about trying to earn His approval, or do you believe that He loves you, and likes you, today? Regardless where you find yourself I pray that you would spend time praying and seeking God, either in praise for this wonderful truth, or asking the Holy Spirit to put this understanding deep into your mind and heart. May God show you His love for you today in Christ.
Since this blog will more than likely be weekly then I will try and put a section on what I am reading and my brief thoughts on it. I am currently reading Jefferson Bethke’s book It’s Not What You Think. In this book Bethke shows the reader how so often we miss significant themes of the Bible simply because we are not taught them, nor are we looking. His main point that he strives for his readers to see is that the Bible is a single narrative, it is one big story over 66 books. I agree with this completely and think that he does a wonderful job pointing out how our preconceived notions of who we are, what the temple is, and what worship is for example, can hinder us from seeing what an individual with focused eyes can see. There are many connections that the original audience would pick up on that we simply do not notice, not because we don’t understand but often because we don’t care to look. Overall this book has pushed me to read the Bible more carefully and pay attention to the details that I often miss. I recommend this book, as it is highly readable with solid content throughout!