Archive for April, 2012

Grace

I’ve been listening to a particular pastor via podcast lately who preaches very gospel-centered, expositional messages.   

Something I am becoming more aware of through digesting his sermons is that hearing the gospel, hearing about the character of God, hearing about the person of Jesus (1) makes me fall more in love with Him, and (2) heals me.  The healing leads to obedience, but I don’t think obedience in the sense of behavior modification (which is often how I subconsciously think about it) is the point.  Our sinful and frustratingly blind human nature, not to mention our current culture, and even church itself, makes obedience the point.  But I think that is our blindness, not the gospel.  I’m not saying obedience is irrelevant, just that our minds distort it into something it is not.

This has impacted me on a practical level (as well as the theoretical/theological level).  As I think about and adjust to marriage, it is so easy for me to approach my husband with advice like “spend more time in the Word,” “put on the armor of God,” “go to your brother when he has offended you,” etc.  I so often revert to behavioral modification language, and I admit that I may have even used the words, “why can’t you just . . . ?”. 

But the more I listen to the gospel message again and again, daily (gospel- and grace-centered sermons as well as the Bible itself), the more I think that what my husband needs from me, or what we all need from others, is for me to model Christ’s love to him.  In times of conflict, my prayer life is shifting to “Lord, how can I show him Christ’s love in this moment?”  This is grace: not that I would tell my husband (or anyone) about the Bible, but that I would be a living example of Christ’s love. 

Well, I fail miserably on a daily basis, of course.  I am insanely impatient and selfish.  I want to analyze everything and come up with an action plan (usually not the Christ-like approach).   Yet my new awareness is evidence that sanctification is taking place, that I am gaining a deeper understanding of the gospel, and that is exciting.

I think again, “What is healing for me in my life?” and thus, what is probably also healing for others that would enable me to better minister to them?  The answer is to be filled with the character of God, by hearing about the character of God (and/or the person of Jesus) and by experiencing it from others.  Hearing a list of things I “should” be doing as an obedient Christian is not healing or really all that helpful (especially, I think, for those of us who grew up with abusive parents who used guilt and fear as modes of punishment/behavior modification, as we erroneously tend to view God similarly to our parents’ nature).