Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why do we do what is right?

The amazing thing about being a Christian is that we never have everything completely figured out. There is always room to grow, and always the challenge to become more like Christ.
To be completely honest, during this busy time in my life, I have not felt the usual desire and pull towards seeking Christ. My natural reaction is to conclude that if I'm not seeking Christ, He is not seeking me, and He no longer accepts me. After all, that is the way a lot of our relationships react when we stop trying. 
In life group we are reading the book "Gospel in Life" about how grace changes everything. As I skimmed the pages yesterday, I realized how legalistic and destroying some of my attitudes can be. 
Rather than being motivated to obey (read my bible etc) so I will be accepted, I should know that I am accepted and because of that obey. You see?
The part about self-view and identity were also challenging to me. I constantly struggle with feeling like a failure and like I can't do anything right. That was usually the case growing up, and it's hard to change that mentality. However instead of my worth and identity being placed on how hard I work, or how moral I am and looking down on those who I think are lazier or less moral than I, my identity and self-worth are centered on the one who died for me. I am saved by sheer grace, so I can't look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace am I what I am.
I admit that I sometimes mistakingly try to be my own Savior by obeying God's law rather than being justified by faith. 
Galations 2:16 says, "man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law because by observing the law no one will be justified."
John Calvin once said, "The point on which the world goes astray is in imagining that man, however partially defective he may be, still in some degree merits the favour of God by works...God reconciles us to himself, from regard NOT to our works but to Christ alone and by gratuitous adoption makes us his own children instead of children of wrath. So long as God regards our works, he finds no reason why he ought to love us."
The question then arises, where do works fit in? 
Martin Luther's response to this question was, "He that strayeth from the Christian righteousness, must needs fall into the righteousness of the law; that is to say, when he hath lost Christ, he must fall into the confidence of his own works. But...when I have Christan righteousness reigning in my heart...I do good works, how and wheresoever occasion arise....Whosoever is assuredly persuaded that Christ alone is his righteousness, doth not only cheerfully and gladly work well in his vocation, but also submitteth all manner of burdens, and to all dangers of the present life, because he knoweth that this is the will of God, and that this obedience pleaseth Him."

So instead of being motivated to do what is right out of fear and my own self-fulfillment, I as a Christian should joyfully be doing what is right because it is the will of the one who saved me and it pleases Him.
This has been extremely challenging to me!

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