I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! -Galatians 2:20-21
Our faith muscles are strengthened as we meditate on the grace of God, not on his impossible standards.
Can you imagine ever saying to someone that “Christ died for nothing!”? Yet the Apostle Paul says that in our actions and in our beliefs we may as well be saying that out loud. That is really convicting. I think leaders in particular sometimes get baited by performance, goals and expectations put on them and fall into this trap of trying to live up to impossible standards.
When we fall into this trap, we are stuck. There is no clawing out without coming back to grace. Grace is the ladder Jesus lowers to lift us out of the pit of the law.
The amazing thing is that Jesus expects us to fall into it from time to time. He knows how frail and vulnerable our souls really are. Sin and pride are still going to have their effect on us daily, and that is why Paul taught so fervently about the superiority of the Gospel.
A RECENT “TRAFFIC” STORY TO ILLUSTRATE MY OWN NEED FOR GRACE
I experienced grace recently. I was trying to enter the highway on a merge lane that was clogged with traffic and although my sense of entitlement felt like someone should let me in rather than block me out, I encountered a lady that was not interested in the “every other car” rule. She yelled at me and gave me the finger. Well my blood pressure shot up and when I got the chance, I took the chance to “pass” her and even though I didn’t make any gestures, my heart was not in a good place. I was fuming a bit until I got home and then realized that I needed to repent of the secret sin of anger in my heart. I was so glad that Christ took my sin and forgave me. I also realized that if I had walked in the Spirit in that moment, then I would have just graciously let the lady have her way, and who knows maybe God would have convicted her that she was being rude. I know that love changes people, but sometimes I don’t live it.
WHAT IMPOSSIBLE STANDARDS ARE DISCOURAGING YOU?
Are you trying to live up to impossible standards? Maybe you think that you have to please God with perfection. Maybe you have bought the lie that you need to please people by always achieving your goals, performing to meet the expectations of others on your life. Well the good news is that even though we fall into this trip from time to time. Our loving Savior, Jesus is lowering a ladder to you right now. He never wanted you to fall into that trap, but being the Shepherd that he is, he is always seeking us and pursuing us when we get lost.
Jesus is enough for you. You can’t live up to the impossible standards of God, nor of people. So let it go. Be free. And just be in awe of Jesus today.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. -Galatians 5:1
IN YOUR OWN WORDS
Here is my own paraphrase of what I think Paul was trying to communicate to us: Merit-based religions, philosophies, and worldviews are NOT offensive because they keep us in control. Yet they are a massive trap that sucks the life right out of you. On the other hand, faith in the cross IS offensive because it disregards all merit. It only acknowledges the grace of God. And the fruit of this offensive faith in the cross is freedom.
So be free to worship and turn the world upside down with your freedom in Christ today. The world desperately needs leaders who believe in the offense of the cross and disregard all merit and earning. The people following you need you to be washed in grace of Jesus today. So lets dive in.
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me. -Psalm 42:7