Sunday, March 15, 2015

Not grasping

My thanks to Cameron who was leading worship on Saturday night - left after the service and wrote down these reflections and so I share them with you. We were in Philippians 2:5-11. The message is online at the church website

“To those who received him, he gave the right to become children of God.”

Receiving him. Welcoming him. Believing in him. Accepting his finished work. If it’s all gift, there’s nothing to be grasped at. Nothing to earn that is not freely given. What are you believing right now about what it will take for God to accept you, love you, like you? Could your zeal no respite know, could your tears forever flow, none of it could atone or make you good enough. All that’s required is receiving him, believing you are his valuable child; because he says so, and because he did the work.

But it’s a value he gives to all, and not a value by degree that you can outwardly earn. Not by competition, attractiveness, or being the most-efficient. Not through selflessness or self-flagellation, by being holier than your spouse, or through any other religious fervor. Nothing is earned. It’s all a gift. In Jesus alone your atonement is known. The rock on which you rest, sleep, stand, cook — enjoy your life — is Jesus. And his gift is freely given.

Or did he not finish his work? Did he leave something undone that you by your sweat and striving and inner judgements will complete?

What would it be like to just believe that it’s finished? That it’s all just given as a gift? Your sonship, your daughterhood, your unshakeable identity. Who would you be in the world? What kind of kingdom would be modeled in your life to others? As Pastor Chris said, if you didn’t earn it, no one else did either. Could you forgive them for not being holy? If the ground on which you rest is only grace, isn’t there boundless room to stretch out that grace like a warm blanket for others?

I want to lift up that one. I want to bow my knees for him. The kindest, gentlest, humblest king. All things were made through him, the Word who was the formation of all that is hidden and unspoken in the unfathomable mind of God. That one came to us offering universal acquittal, full reconciliation. He came to his own and his own did not receive him.

He comes to us, and we don’t receive him.

All that we so noisily run after, abuse and manipulate others for, compete, strive, and grasp after, he humbly offers in a quiet inner quiescence. Just receive. It’s free. Just receive. Peace, rest, belonging, value, and love are offered freely, without cost. You who cannot afford it, come buy milk and wine without money and without cost. But we insist on paying. How can we have anything of true value to offer others if we’re still busy striving to earn our worth — grasping at it — the same way as everyone else? We reflect our king poorly, and so the world doesn’t see a king worth lifting up.

They don’t believe in the goodness of the gift, because we don’t either.

What does it look like to cut the rope to which we cling, alone and freezing to death? To let go of our own grip and find that we are already held. What is the death of self? What part of you dies if you cut the rope of your own earned-holiness and rest only on his word about you? If it’s all a gift and nothing that you earn, why do you insist on paying? Why do you want the law? Don’t you know that the only thing that writes the law into your very heart is love? While those sinners are yet sinners, he loves them. While you currently fall short, he loves you.

Jesus, I need faith to receive you fully. To trust you not only for my identity, but for joy, for pleasure, for enough food and enough money, for direction and meaning, for a lady. You said I am your son, and all you have is mine. May I thank you for the gifts even before I see them or fully understand them.