Sunday, May 20, 2012

Be Perfect! (I Didn't Say It, Jesus Did!)

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

Boy, do we need more grace and more peace in our lives! Are you like me, feeling rushed and overwhelmed? Forgetting details because your mind is overflowing with everything on your “to do list?" It seems that everywhere I turn people are feeling the same way, too much to do and too little time, and the things that we are doing don’t always seem to be the priorities. We get distracted with the mundane and the insignificant details of daily life.  

My husband and I recently experienced this as we traveled over a long weekend to visit family. We both remarked at the end of our trip that “we had left God at home." Of course that is not theologically possible. One of my favorite names for God is Immanuel, God with us. So while I know it’s true, it played out quite differently on our trip. All the planned activities for the weekend seemed to take over as each hour slipped by. Even though my husband and I know and love God, we let other lesser things get in the way. What should have been a priority had been relegated to the bottom of the list. Does that happen to you? Do you ever oversleep and miss out on your morning devotion time? Does a rushed drive-thru dinner cause you to “skip” meal time prayer? Does your weekday evening schedule mean no time for bedtime prayers with your husband or kids?  (I just checked “yes” next to each one of these)

I have good news for you. And it comes straight from the gospel. 

Christ came to set the captives free. The gospel is the liberating truth that Christ has done for us what we could never do for ourselves. You may be asking yourself – yes, but what does that have to do with "leaving God at home” over a long weekend?  

Here’s the deal. The standard that God requires is perfection.

Jesus said,  

It is an undiluted, inflexible standard. It is not good enough to say I’m getting better or improving. Perfect holiness is what God accepts, period.  

That’s why Christ came. He lived the life that you and I never could. His sinless life and spotless record is counted towards our sinful and lawless account.  

That’s good news, isn't it?  

Our imperfection, our best intentions, our failed plans – 

exchanged for Christ’s perfection, Christ’s pure motivations and His perfectly executed days!

Speaker and author Elyse Fitzpatrick puts it this way;

“There is enough law obeying in Christ’s life to cover every law I break. Jesus Christ answered all the demands of the law in my place.”

That’s good news isn’t it?  

Condemnation and guilt no longer have power over you. Because Christ answered all the demands, the law can no longer condemn you! In Christ you are free from all the guilt, regret, and condemnation you’ve been carrying around.

As I thought about that weekend with my family I found myself giving into guilt and shame for choosing lesser things than God that weekend. But the freedom in the gospel reminds me that yes, I did choose lesser things. I will always choose lesser things because the standard is perfection and I will never attain that. So the gospel comforts my weary soul with the refreshing good news that Christ is my perfection. In Him I can rest because the perfection I long for, the “rightness” I am seeking, and the forgiveness I desperately need, I already have. 

Jesus says, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

You see, apart from Jesus and his righteousness we would all be relegated to the bottom of God’s list. But God, being rich in mercy sent His Son to rescue us from ourselves. With Jesus, we go to the top of God’s list! Free from guilt and shame and free to love and serve because of the great and unending love of Christ!

That’s good news, isn’t it?

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