Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Freed from the lie of self-sufficiency

This photo, with its quote from Martin Luther, comes from the Facebook site, Sundries

Christians who claim not to wrestle with this reality--the reality that they want to be God over their own lives and find it hard to trust the God we know in Christ--aren't being honest--with themselves, with others, or both. 

Thank God that as we surrender to Christ, Who knows everything about us anyway, acknowledging all our wrongs and neediness, we experience His healing and empowerment for living. 

He comes to us when we are sad and empty and defeated and teaches us, day to day, to trust in Him alone.

This is both a hard and essential lesson for us to learn, even harder to learn when we're not feeling sad, empty, or defeated...when we're happy, full, and on top of the world.

But we need Christ whether we're feeling defeated or we're deluded in thinking that somehow we are "like God," able to, in Luther's phrase, "take matters into our own hands."

It's hard learning that we are not and can not be God, the captains of our own fates. And this only becomes a deeper reality once we come to follow Christ.

In this connection, I always think of the risen Jesus' words to Peter in John 21:18-19:

"Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
These words, it seems to me, has application to every Christian. To accept Jesus' invitation to follow Him means to submit to the crucifixion of every sinful presumption of control, self-sufficiency, or sovereignty, ceding it to the One Who made us and Who bore our sins painfully on the cross, then rose from the dead, so that all who will die to sin and self-centeredness will be raised by God to new life that starts here and will be perfected in eternity when we see God face to face.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it well: "When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die."

It's only through the crucifixion of our egotism and pretended self-sufficiency that we can be born from above--again and again with each new revelation of the depths of our human presumption, each new crucifixion of the old self, each rising of the new self--as children of God, filled not with what this dying world can give but will inevitably take away, but with the life that only God can give.

It's the life that He only gives to those who live repentantly, that is in repeatedly, daily, moment by moment, turning FROM sin and TO Christ and a life with God, a life which is only possible through Christ.

No comments: