Friday, November 19, 2010

The Condition of Man: Part Two

"And you were dead in your trespasses and sins..." -Ephesians 2:1

Some months ago I concluded a blog entitled "The Condition of Man: Part One" by stating that man was spiritually dead. I mentioned the fact that Jesus is standing at the spiritual door of mankind and He is knocking while He waits for us to answer. The question I asked was this: "What is the condition of the man on the other side of the door?"

My thesis is that mankind is in no condition to make spiritual decisions to follow Jesus unless some outside force first changes their hopeless condition. I claimed that the first evidence to support my thesis was the Biblical idea that the man on the other side of the door is spiritually dead and therefore unable to answer the door at which Jesus stands and knocks. To live, he must answer the door and to answer the door he must be made alive.

In the same way, a dead man can't drink water unless he first becomes alive. If he must drink water to become alive, then he will remain dead because a dead man can't drink water. Someone else can pour water down a corpse's throat but that's not drinking, that's just pouring water into a dead man's mouth. For that dead man to drink, he must first live again.

In Ephesians, the Apostle Paul writes some amazing things about who God is and who we are in light of God being who He is. One of the passages that is amazing is Ephesians 2:1-10 which says in verse one that we (Christians) were dead (spiritually) and we were headed for a big heaping dose of God's nasty, righteous, good, just wrath and that non-believers are still on the path for it. Verse 5 seems to clearly state that for some reason God gave us life even when we were dead and unable to do anything to please him (Romans 8:7-8).

Paul writes something similar to the Church at Colossae:
"And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses..."

There's no doubt that Paul believes there is something spiritually dead about us. If you read Romans 8 you get this picture that the physical state of a man will line up with the spiritual state of him as well. If I live by the flesh, my physical body and soul will go the way of the flesh which is death. The Spirit is life and peace, so if I live this life by, in, and through the Spirit, I will live spiritually and live once again physically when resurrected by Christ. That is an overwhelming theme in the writings of Paul. My physical life in the flesh will line up with the posture of my soul.

So, if we are dead spiritually, what can we on our own merit and under our own power do to change the state our spiritual condition? The answer is: nothing. When was the last time you saw a corpse do anything but decompose? The only time truly dead things come to life again is by the power of an eternal force. So in the case of spiritual deadness, what external force intervenes for the corpse on the other side of the door upon which Jesus knocks? The corpse must come to life for it to answer the door and inviting Jesus in. But we've established, at the cost of me sounding redundant, that life won't happen apart from an outside granting life.

So the conclusion is: Man is dead spiritually and there's nothing we can do about it. But that's just the beginning of our problems. Because even if the spiritual corpse comes to life, the now living corpse is hostile toward the one who stands at the door and knocks. The key word in that verse is "hostile."

Hostile: "Of an enemy, pertaining to an enemy, or characteristic of an enemy; opposed in feeling, action, or character; not friendly, not warm, not generous, not hospitable."

We've got a huge problem: The God of the Universe is standing at our door...and we hate him.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thoughts on Grace

I've grown up a lot in the past three years. Which is to be expected. I was 21 and now I'm 24. We could only hope I'd grow at least a little I guess. But I think my understanding of Grace has had a lot to do with it.

For a long time, I've known academically and intellectually what Grace is, but it was only after becoming a Christian that I knew of Grace in the sense that my knowledge of it and experience of it collided into something that was very personal. But lately, I've seen in my own life how little I understand it even now. I mean, I've grown leaps and bounds in Grace. I'll never forget the time Jake Peterman and I were talking about a guy who we felt deserved the wrath of God and Divine justice (who doesn't right?) and I said, "We just gotta show him a little grace."

We were walking on campus when I said that and Jake just stopped. He was in shock that he was hearing those words from my mouth. I was too, I suppose. But that's what happens when you're being transformed. You start to become unrecognizable when compared to the person you were before Christ.

But, somewhere along the road, I've become numb to Grace. I've once again become so Truth heavy that I've forgotten Grace. I'm a little Grace retarded. I don't say that to be funny. It's pretty serious, actually. When you find yourself thinking that God loves some future version of you rather than understanding the fact that God, because of Grace, loves you right now, right where you are...even though you're a jacked up, messed up, screw up. Grace is Grace because you can't do anything to alter your position. Grace is unmerited.

Lately, I've found myself thinking thoughts about how God will be pleased and love me more when I reach certain spiritual goals and levels. It's so weird to operate in a way that mentally, intellectually, and academically you know is just absolutely crazy. It's actually quite insane. it's like driving on the left side of the road while muttering, "Drive on the right dummy, driving on the left is crazy, driving on the left is wrong, driving on the left ends badly, driving on the left is a terrible idea."

But...that's where I've been lately. I've been in this ridiculous cycle of "let me clean up my act and then God will be approachable again. Lemme fix myself so I can go back to Jesus and hangout again." How dumb is that? Yeah, I's pretty dumb in light of Grace. Don't get me wrong, I am well aware of Romans 6. But if I try to run from God until I can get myself clean first, I'll be running forever--because it will never happen.

Grace it what allows me to approach God and cry out, "Look I really suck at this whole life thing and if you don't do something in me, I'm never going to be able to make it. You've told me to pick up my cross and follow you, but if my heart doesn't continue to be transformed by you, I'm never going to hold up under the weight of discipleship and sanctification."

Oh God, thank you for Grace. Thank you that it's free and unmerited. That you that Grace means I'm yours right now. Thank you that you don't just love some version of me that's 20 years away. Thank you that you love me right now.

It's because of Grace that I'm confident that God will continue to show me and remind of His Grace throughout my journey. I'm quite sure this won't be the last season of life in which I'll find myself not walking in light of Grace...because I am so prone to wander and discard my understanding of Grace. What a tragedy it is to lose sight of such a beautiful thing like Grace.