Satan wants me to be comfortable. He wants me to take my life for granted; to not notice the little blessings given to me each day. Satan wants me to think that I have it all together, because if this were true, why would I need to seek God?
The devil doesn’t want me to share my weaknesses; to admit that I am broken and need God’s grace.
Satan doesn’t want me to notice that I rarely pick up the Bible next to my bed or admit that I sometimes get too caught up in housework instead of spending time with my girls. Or that I hesitate to help others when it might inconvenience me too much. The devil doesn’t want me to acknowledge that I know he is behind any fear and resistance that I have been battling.
Why am I typing this stuff? Simply because I have read some amazing books by saintly authors lately. The Holy Spirit has been weaving some beautiful wisdom together in my mind. Hopefully, I can now articulate what has been knocking me over the head…
“I am a sinner.” That’s the response that Pope Francis gave in his recent interview for America Magazine, when asked to describe who he was. These are the first words that came to mind of one of the holiest men on earth! What a humble example of who we are all called to be as Christians!
At the time that I read the aforementioned, A Big Heart Open to God article, I had just finished reading a section in Melody Green’s book, No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green, about her musician husband and how he started a “revival” in their community of new Christians. Keith had read a book by Charles Finney that discussed the concept of “fallow ground,” and this motivated him to confess his sins to his friends, ask for forgiveness, and turn grace into action on a whole new level. On page 269, Melody writes:
Keith explained, “Fallow ground is ground that was once tilled, but has since gotten hard and unusable. Before it can receive seed, it needs to be broken up and made soft again. Finney says to break up the fallow ground of our heart, we need to examine our motive, actions, and state of mind very carefully…” Keith quoted Finney again. “There are many professing Christians who are willing to do almost anything in religion that does not require self-denial. They are so far from realizing that self-denial is a condition of discipleship that they do not even know what it is!”
Keith was passionate about fighting hypocrisy among Christians and urged one another to move beyond “easy” grace.
For anyone out there familiar with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, you know that this is just like his term, “cheap grace.” In his book, The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer states, “Happy are they who know that discipleship simply means the life which springs from grace, and that grace simply means discipleship.”
Many Christians accept God’s gift of grace without accepting that we are also made to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him while on this earth. We are made to know our brothers and sisters in Christ; to love them and to serve them. This requires action…discipleship…grace.
We are not to take our amazing free redeeming gift of salvation and keep it to ourselves. Matthew 5:13-16 states:
You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.
“Getting saved” isn’t a one time thing, it is a a continuous accepting of Jesus by the choices that we make. Dr. Timothy Gray states in Walk the Walk: Following Christ as His Disciple, “Denial is always preceded by distance. Follow Jesus at a distance, and that discipleship will eventually end up in denial – denying Jesus.” He also states, “To not act on our belief – on our Christian thoughts – makes those Christian thoughts completely fruitless and vain.”
Can we ever do anything to earn grace? No, of course not. God freely gives us his love and mercy over and over again. Grace should inspire thankfulness – a heart overflowing with gratitude for something that we can never deserve. Thankfulness humbles us. Thankfulness is the key to joy.
I’ve been reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and her book is absolutely filled with numerous ways we receive grace and blessings. She says:
Thanksgiving creates abundance; and the miracle of multiplying happens when I give thanks- take the just one loaf, say it is enough, and give thanks- and He miraculously makes it more than enough.
When we have more than enough, we share. We share our joy, our blessings, our hope, so that others will seek Jesus, accept His grace, and follow Him. We are called to live radically and walk boldly in faith. Without God’s grace we are nothing, and this is precisely why we owe our lives to Him. This is why we should want the Lord to till our hardened soil and plant seeds of love in our hearts.
I am a sinner. A thankful sinner. A thankful sinner who wants to shine His light.