What is it that you want Jesus to change in you?
By the grace of God, I've heard this phrase several times over the past six months.
I've heard it at my church’s Man School. I've heard it through a Precept Upon Precept inductive study on Acts. I've heard it in my Community Group. I've also heard it with a training I’m going through called Gospel Care. What is it that you want Jesus to change in you? One of the ways that the Spirit has been spinning this record on repeat is through a sermon that I heard on Galatians 2. I posted the following about it on Facebook. Great comments. Great reality check. The sermon referenced in the post continued, “Have you ever met someone that is overly critical--no matter how hard you try, nothing is ever going to be enough to meet their demands. You feel like you’re always climbing this mountain of approval to meet their standard.
Paul was being judged. He had spent his life for the sake of the gospel. False teachers come in and question his methods of establishing the gospel and gospel centered churches." Our pastor expounded on the hope of the gospel in the midst of this particular circumstance.
What is it that you want Jesus to change in you?
“I don’t want to be critical of others!” - I answered in my Gospel Care training. I’ve been praying and thinking through this for weeks. I've experienced the critical eye of others, as many of us have. You know what it is like. You walk in the room and it's obvious that the other person is standing in judgment, disapproving. They may or may not say a word, but their criticism fills the room like a stank stench. In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss, "stink. stank. stunk." I have not only been on the receiving end, but I have seen the stank come out of my heart. Let's be clear, it isn't the situation that we're in or the things that people do or say to us that causes the stank of criticism. It is dormant. It is in the heart. Thankfully, I’ve got some amazing people in community serving and caring for me well as I walk through what is behind this tendency in my heart.
The sermon, after pointing out the 50,000 foot view of the gospel brings it back down to the ground war of daily life through the following personal application:
Response 1 - chill out with yourself “God’s grace and love for you is so great that you do not have to be performance driven. All this thinking that we do, all this saying, 'I've got to perform' that doesn't impress God. That does not gain God’s attention. In fact, we need to recognize that the only thing that really pleases God is when we recognize that we have no good, but we look to Jesus… His cross is sufficient for me. His cross makes me right with God. We rest in Jesus. we need to recognize that our value and significance are from grace, what Jesus has done." It isn't a coincidence, then, that throughout the course of these weeks, the song on repeat in our home has been “Hallelujah, All I have is Christ!”
I had no hope that you would own a rebel to your will.
And if you had not loved me first, I would refuse you still.
But as I ran my hell-bound race, indifferent to the cross
You looked upon my helpless state and led me to the cross
And I beheld God's love displayed you suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me, now all i know is grace!
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ.
Our Pastor continued to take the truths of Galatians from the transcendent, over-arching truths of the gospel to the nitty-gritty practical.
Response 2 -chill out with others
"Are you a critical person?
Always nit-picking other people?
Always bashing other people?
Always pointing out to others how they’re so lazy, always pulling things apart… If that is you, LISTEN, the judge of the universe has made a way to be gracious to you when there is no way… so, why on earth do you think you can be critical of other people. Would you want God to be as critical of you as you are of other people? There is no way! So the same outrageous grace that you've received, extend that grace to other people. Chill out on being so hard on yourself. Chill out being so hard on other people."
Whew-way to wield the Sword of the Lord!
Way to cut right to the heart, allowing it to divide and judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart!
Bottom line, what the Spirit has been stirring and pressing deep into my heart is that I am just in need of basking in the mercy of God today as I was on that day when I was changed. Yes, my default is still that older brother. My default is that self-righteous, law driven legalist. How do I know? How can you know? Well, are you critical? Are you, as I at times, majoring still on the treadmill of performance--always spinning and striving, but never getting anywhere? Yes, both of these are crazy! Thanks be to God for the mercy of God poured out in Jesus. Jesus, through His Spirit is so gracious to allow me and allow you the grace to be in His Word, hear His Word, and processing His Word in community.
Performance driven? May Jesus open our eyes again, afresh to His mercy and grace. May Jesus make us love mercy.
Critical of others? May Jesus, through His Spirit, show us our gospel-amnesia.
Spirit, yes! Amen! The Judge has judged Jesus in our place! Hallelujah! All we have is Christ.