Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Now" and "Not Yet"

I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few weeks about the tension between the “now” and the “not yet” of the Christian life. We’ve been reading the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan in small groups with our church. I’m not necessarily endorsing Francis Chan per se by sharing this, I mean, everything we read and hear we need to be like the Bereans and search the scriptures and not get so excited about any teacher or author that we aren’t careful to judge their words by the Bible. I hate that I have to say that, but anymore you really do....we tend to idolize Christian teachers and authors and bloggers. Not the point of this post, moving on.....

Anyway, as I said we’ve been reading that book. It is challenging me. Especially Chapter 4, “Profile of the Lukewarm,” and Chapter 5, “Serving Leftovers to a Holy God.” Just reading the chapter titles gives you a tiny glimpse of the challenge I’m facing in reading and pondering as I read.

I saw more of myself in the lukewarm profile than I want to be there. That’s hard to face. But I must face it. And in facing it and in wrestling with it and in seeking to repent where I’m needing to repent, I am gaining an ever clearer understanding of the depth of the mercy and grace of the gospel. As I was discussing the hopelessness I was feeling one evening while reading Chapter 4 with my husband, in tears I said, “The only hope I have is that when I stand before God, Jesus will stand as my Advocate and High Priest. It is in His righteousness alone, cleansed by His blood alone, that I can hope to stand, because there is nothing, nothing, I can offer Him that is anything more than filthy rags.” I can’t even love Him as deeply as He deserves and I long to love Him. Even in that I need Him, oh, how I need Him. How I need His Spirit to fill me and turn my desires and bend my will and help me to desire Him more than anything else.

And, friends, that is the sure hope of the gospel. In Christ alone do I find rest. In Christ alone am I made righteous. It is true that on my very best day, my very best effort to worship and praise Him and love Him and obey Him is tainted by some sinful thought or motive. And that’s on my very best day. It’s a horrifying thing to realize how often the hypocrite in me rears its ugly head in pride, even when I want to do the right thing for the right reasons. How tempting when I come to understanding in some area to look around and say, “I’m so glad I’m not like those people,” when really I need to be on my face before Jesus in humble gratitude for the way He is opening my eyes each step of faith along life’s walk with Him. How I fear the hypocrite in me that taints everything, even victories and good things, with pride and sinful motives, even when my desire is to be humble.

But that is the now. It is not the ‘not yet.’ I’ve been listening to John MacArthur preach about Heaven on my iPod this week. Friends, can I just tell you that one thing I greatly long for about Heaven is that this sinful flesh will once and for all be completely put off. I will be able to worship God with full love and devotion, untainted by the hypocrite I wrestle with in the now. Then I will be made holy as He is holy. Then I will be able to worship Him with no taint of the former sinful self. Then, no longer will I see through a glass darkly, distracted by the trappings of this world. No, then I will be like Him, for I shall see Him as He is. Then I will be glorified and conformed to His image. Then I will be able to sing in purity with the Redeemed, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, who is and who is to come.” Until then, I cry out just as the hymn says, “More love to Thee, O Christ! More love to Thee!” Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief.

Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

Philippians 1:3-6 “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;”

Proverbs 16:6 “In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.”

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures,”

Hebrews 2:17-18 “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.”

Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.”

Psalm 27:4 “One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple.”


Kay said...

Wow, girl! Yes to all of what you said! I am slooowly working my way through Crazy Love. Not a fun, easy read. I highlighted some things because he was telling the truth and then highlighted other areas because it was truth I needed to hear. But there are so many ways I fail...that I lukewarm. And it is scary. I had a similar experience as the author when he talked about putting aside everything he thought he knew about the Bible and coming to it like he had never heard a word of it and the truths of God just began to pour out and many of these 'hard teachings' were right in front of my eyes in His word and yet I'd found ways to tip toe around them or try to make them mean something else. It was very life changing for me when I began to let God show me the hard things. And he still does. (sorry this is so long...)

Rebekah said...

You don't have to apologize for a long comment. :-) I'm glad to hear you are being challenged, too. I'm grateful that God does show us these things and open our eyes as we read His word and give us the faith to understand.