So, I was reading Romans this morning, which is a bit like having Pot Roast for breakfast (delicious sure, but sits on your ribs like a lead weight, hard to shake). And I read that oft quoted verse "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1) and I realized that I used to really dislike this verse. It seemed to easy. Surely we had to be held accountable for stuff. Isn't that the whole point of crowns in heaven? I'm a way better Christian than that guy over there... surely that's going to come up in heaven? And if I mess up, then God's going to hold me accountable.
This attitude, for the better part of the last ten years has resulted in a mindset that God has a ladder that I am constantly climbing and when I mess up, He moves me down the ladder, and if I mess up too bad, He'll knock me off of the ladder all together.
This is so bent!
I'm realizing more and more on this trip that my behavior has zip, zilch, zero, nada to do with my position in God's eyes, the value that he has for me. I'm messed up, I'm going to mess up more, but God loves me all the same. And the fruit that I have in my life has little to do with me, if anything. That fruit, all the good stuff that I do, is a manifestation of the Spirit in my and a natural result of learning to love God. If I do good stuff, it's because he made it possible, part of this journey of getting closer to Him in relationship. It has nothing to do with whether I'm better or worse at being a Christian than anyone else. It also makes me realize that the path to victory over sin is not in discipline (sure that helps, but if there is no love, no heart for Christ behind it, then who cares?) but in learning to receive his love and loving him more. The closer I get to God, the more victory I see in my life as a natural overflow of his Spirit. The farther I get away, the easier it is to stumble.
I think this is why so many times that I have "sworn off" a particular sin, I've been so unsuccessful. Those moments aren't about getting closer to God, they're about me making declarations on what I can do. I can't overcome sin. There's no way. I'm gonna choose sin every single time if it's just on me. But if I draw closer to God, develop in my relationship with Him, learn to love Him, that stuff gets easier and easier.
One last example: I used to memorize scripture because I saw it as some sort of weapon that I could use, like I was developing a Spiritual utility belt. "What's up temptation?! You want some?!!?!" I'd shout and then I'd blast temptation with an appropriate verse, probably from something Paul wrote. I used Jesus overcoming temptation in the desert as a touchstone. "See! It worked for Him!" But what I missed was the fact that when Jesus quoted those verses he wasn't using them like some sort of talisman or secret weapon, he was reminding Satan of the blessings that he had in God. The power that his Father had given Him. The love that the Father had shown. He spoke of those scriptures of statements of the true nature of who he was and what the Father had for him. That's why quoting verses didn't work for the devil, who tried to use them against Jesus.
I want to start memorizing scripture again. But not because it makes me a better Christian, or that I'll be a more powerful spiritual warrior. I want to start memorizing scripture because it would be nice to have a constant reminder of the stuff that I so quickly forget. That God loves me more than I realize. That Christ paid the price in full for my sins before I could commit them. That I'm blessed and did nothing to deserve it.
So, yeah... that was sort of fractured, but it's what I was thinking this morning.