Saturday, May 18, 2013

Feelings of Entitlement

"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace." Acts 20:24

NOTHING is owed to us as believers.  We are not entitled to anything.  Being in Christ does not mean we will be blessed.

I know ... kind of a downer.  Not exactly what you want to read when you first open up a blog post.  I don't like thinking about this.  It scares me a little bit, but I feel like it is extremely important for me to grasp.  I have a tendency to feel entitled, as if I did anything to deserve what I have in my life.  I grumble and moan about things that aren't fair as if I have a right to determine what's fair and what I deserve.

Paul wrote most of the new testament.  It could be argued that he did more for the cause of Christ than anyone alive during his time.  Yet he spent most of his life in prison, in hiding, or on the run.  He was stoned and beaten.  His death was plotted and attempted on numerous occasions.  He didn't really have a home.  He was always on the move and always persecuted for his faith.  His own people hated him, just as they hated Jesus.  Eventually Paul was killed for sharing the gospel.  After all that, he still truly believed he was THE worst sinner in the world.

"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst." 1 Timothy 1:15

  If Paul, one of the greatest Christians of all time, thought he was the worst of all the sinners then how much more of a sinner am I?  How much LESS do I deserve than he did?  If he was tortured, beaten, imprisoned, and persecuted all his Christian life then what makes me think I deserve anything more?  Why should I get off so easy?

"Although I am less than the least of all the Lord's people, this grace was given to me . . ." Ephesians 3:8

If Paul believed he was less than the least of all the Lord's people, how much more should I believe that?
The good news is, Jesus doesn't care who we are or what we are or what we've done.  He loves me the same as he loves Paul.  I can't earn his love, despite the fact that I am constantly trying.  He loves me in spite of my sin.  He loves me, the worst sinner in the world, just as much as he loves Paul and Peter and John and Rahab and Esther and every other great person of faith.  We can't do anything to make God love us less and we can't do anything to make him love us more.  How incredible! 
I'm having such a hard time with this concept because I've spent my entire life trying to "be good."  We are taught to do the right thing and God will love us.  Don't cuss, don't drink, don't party, save sex until you're married, don't be spiteful or malicious, don't argue with your parents, don't lie, don't cheat, don't steal, don't hate anyone. . . 
The list of "don'ts" is too long to measure.  And every time I mess up I berate myself.  I beat myself up.  I convince myself that God doesn't want to spend time with me when I screw up like that.  I shouldn't bother praying until I fix my sin.  I shouldn't try to have a quiet time if I can't be a better Christian.  God won't want to talk to me anyway. The truth of the matter is this: we CAN'T fix our sin without Christ!  I - an imperfect, sinfully natured being - cannot fix my own sin.  Only Christ has the ability to wash away sin.  Only He can give me the strength to withstand temptation or to practice compassion and love.  This is what Satan does to us.  He convinces us that we aren't good enough to be in a relationship with the One True God of the universe, and so we shame ourselves into thinking that He doesn't love us as much as he would if we were better and we have to fix ourselves before we can grow that relationship.  

This is a LIE!!!

We CAN'T fix ourselves.  We can never make ourselves "better."  We are hopeless sinful creatures.  But this is such a beautiful and wonderful thing because God does not expect us to fix ourselves.  He expects us to open up into a relationship with his Son, Jesus Christ.  He expects us to love Him and worship Him and communicate with Him.  When we allow Jesus to work in our hearts then everything else falls into place.  He will change us from the inside out if we just let him.  

"Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  But now He has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation." Colossians 1:21-22

I am only just now figuring all this out and I still don't fully understand it.  A relationship with Christ isn't about being "good," it's about loving him.  That's it.  I can never be good enough.  Only Jesus is good enough, and He has ensured that when the time comes and I stand before the Father, my sin will not keep me from his presence.  All the Father will see when he looks at me is his Son and the sacrifice that was made for me.  ME, of all people.  ME - the worst of all the sinners, the one who is less than the least of all the Lord's people.  

Me. 

I am in awe at this concept that I don't believe I will ever fully understand.  Hebrews 2:11 says "Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family.  So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters."
Jesus is not ashamed to call me his sister.  He loves me, and more than that he is not ashamed of me.  He wants me to love him.  He wants me to spend time with him and to talk to him.  He wants me to let him take over my life.  

"For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." Hebrews 10:14

That's me.  His sacrifice has made me holy and perfect forever.  If you are a believer that's you too.  Faith in Christ isn't about fighting to be "good enough."  It's about giving up the fight and letting Jesus fight for you.  It's about loving Jesus so much that you take him into every area and aspect of your life and let him reign.  

Feelings of Entitlement

"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace." Acts 20:24

NOTHING is owed to us as believers.  We are not entitled to anything.  Being in Christ does not mean we will be blessed.

I know ... kind of a downer.  Not exactly what you want to read when you first open up a blog post.  I don't like thinking about this.  It scares me a little bit, but I feel like it is extremely important for me to grasp.  I have a tendency to feel entitled, as if I did anything to deserve what I have in my life.  I grumble and moan about things that aren't fair as if I have a right to determine what's fair and what I deserve.

Paul wrote most of the new testament.  It could be argued that he did more for the cause of Christ than anyone alive during his time.  Yet he spent most of his life in prison, in hiding, or on the run.  He was stoned and beaten.  His death was plotted and attempted on numerous occasions.  He didn't really have a home.  He was always on the move and always persecuted for his faith.  His own people hated him, just as they hated Jesus.  Eventually Paul was killed for sharing the gospel.  After all that, he still truly believed he was THE worst sinner in the world.

"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst." 1 Timothy 1:15

  If Paul, one of the greatest Christians of all time, thought he was the worst of all the sinners then how much more of a sinner am I?  How much LESS do I deserve than he did?  If he was tortured, beaten, imprisoned, and persecuted all his Christian life then what makes me think I deserve anything more?  Why should I get off so easy?

"Although I am less than the least of all the Lord's people, this grace was given to me . . ." Ephesians 3:8

If Paul believed he was less than the least of all the Lord's people, how much more should I believe that?
The good news is, Jesus doesn't care who we are or what we are or what we've done.  He loves me the same as he loves Paul.  I can't earn his love, despite the fact that I am constantly trying.  He loves me in spite of my sin.  He loves me, the worst sinner in the world, just as much as he loves Paul and Peter and John and Rahab and Esther and every other great person of faith.  We can't do anything to make God love us less and we can't do anything to make him love us more.  How incredible! 
I'm having such a hard time with this concept because I've spent my entire life trying to "be good."  We are taught to do the right thing and God will love us.  Don't cuss, don't drink, don't party, save sex until you're married, don't be spiteful or malicious, don't argue with your parents, don't lie, don't cheat, don't steal, don't hate anyone. . . 
The list of "don'ts" is too long to measure.  And every time I mess up I berate myself.  I beat myself up.  I convince myself that God doesn't want to spend time with me when I screw up like that.  I shouldn't bother praying until I fix my sin.  I shouldn't try to have a quiet time if I can't be a better Christian.  God won't want to talk to me anyway. The truth of the matter is this: we CAN'T fix our sin without Christ!  I - an imperfect, sinfully natured being - cannot fix my own sin.  Only Christ has the ability to wash away sin.  Only He can give me the strength to withstand temptation or to practice compassion and love.  This is what Satan does to us.  He convinces us that we aren't good enough to be in a relationship with the One True God of the universe, and so we shame ourselves into thinking that He doesn't love us as much as he would if we were better and we have to fix ourselves before we can grow that relationship.  

This is a LIE!!!

We CAN'T fix ourselves.  We can never make ourselves "better."  We are hopeless sinful creatures.  But this is such a beautiful and wonderful thing because God does not expect us to fix ourselves.  He expects us to open up into a relationship with his Son, Jesus Christ.  He expects us to love Him and worship Him and communicate with Him.  When we allow Jesus to work in our hearts then everything else falls into place.  He will change us from the inside out if we just let him.  

"Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  But now He has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation." Colossians 1:21-22

I am only just now figuring all this out and I still don't fully understand it.  A relationship with Christ isn't about being "good," it's about loving him.  That's it.  I can never be good enough.  Only Jesus is good enough, and He has ensured that when the time comes and I stand before the Father, my sin will not keep me from his presence.  All the Father will see when he looks at me is his Son and the sacrifice that was made for me.  ME, of all people.  ME - the worst of all the sinners, the one who is less than the least of all the Lord's people.  

Me. 

I am in awe at this concept that I don't believe I will ever fully understand.  Hebrews 2:11 says "Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family.  So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters."
Jesus is not ashamed to call me his sister.  He loves me, and more than that he is not ashamed of me.  He wants me to love him.  He wants me to spend time with him and to talk to him.  He wants me to let him take over my life.  

"For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." Hebrews 10:14

That's me.  His sacrifice has made me holy and perfect forever.  If you are a believer that's you too.  Faith in Christ isn't about fighting to be "good enough."  It's about giving up the fight and letting Jesus fight for you.  It's about loving Jesus so much that you take him into every area and aspect of your life and let him reign.