I read a blog the other day called “20 things you must have to receive your miracle in 2014.” And I thought, “really? 20 things? Did the cross accomplish anything?”
Trust in Jesus- sadly, didn’t make the list.
I don’t mean to pick on this blog. The author meant well. However, Christianity, I believe, has become far to crowded with messages about how to “get your miracle” “be a better person” and “improve your life.” In my mind, it all spits in the face of the cross and the finished work of Christ.
Christianity seems to have an obsession with morality, and self-improvement. Aren’t we supposed to be in a love affair with Grace? Grace goes against the grain of morality entirely. Morality says “improve yourself.” Grace says “Christ has improved you.”
New Years Resolution
Today is new years eve. I always see lots of my friend posting their new year’s resolutions including all the things the want to improve in themselves this year. Whether it’s losing weight, reading the bible more, or doing more evangelism. Everyone seems to have something they want to work on each new year.
So I’ll give you mine. For 2014, my resolution is simple. Retirement.
I know, I know. I’m too young, and there’s work to be done around here. But hear me out. I don’t mean retirement as in, “laziness.” I mean retirement as in “entering into the rest of God.”
“So there is a full complete rest for the people of God. Christ has already entered there. He is resting from his work, just as God did after the creation. Let us do our best to go into that place of rest, too..” (Hebrews 4:9-11 Living Bible)
We are not called to be workers. We are called to rest in Christ, and trust in the finished work of the cross. We are born as His beloved; called to be loved by God, and to rest in His grace.
There’s nothing wrong with having goals for your new year. Of course you should be intentional and set up goals for yourself. I have several dreams I plan on pursuing this year. I plan on starting a business, and publishing my 2nd and 3rd books- all before the start of summer. I’m not talking about laziness here at all. I work hard in my life to pursue the dreams God has given me.
But I always aim to operate out of rest, not self-effort.
We are meant to live our life in a state of perpetual rest, not self-efforts and striving. The difference between the two is massive! On one hand, we are responsible to single-handedly accomplish it all. On the other hand, Christ in us is leading us and working in us!
Who’s life is it anyways
Paul writes in Galatians 2:20, “I consider myself as having died and now enjoying a second existence which is simply Jesus using my body.” (Distilled Bible)
We have been crucified with Christ. When Christ died, we died with Him! Our sinful, rotten self was crucified with Christ on the cross. Our fallen nature was lost in the black hole of His death. The old you is completely gone! There is not a single trace of the old, sinner you. It’s gone! Lost in Christ!
Which means something fantastic: You are a new creation!
Christ didn’t stay in the grave. He raised out from the grave after three days, and with Him, newness of life came bursting forth. Paul writes that we now share in this newness of life with Christ!
In our union with Christ, we have been made into new beings. We now share in the joyous life of Christ. Your life is no longer your life anymore. Your life, the very fabric of who you are, is held together eternally in Christ. Where Christ is, you are. Where you are, Christ is. Christ is your new identity, He is your new existence. Jesus came that we might have life, and life abundantly! He didn’t come for us to have a better life, or an improved life. He came so we could share in His life.
This is the Gospel!
Stop doing, start being
This new year I encourage you to enter into this place of utter rest. You are not called to do a bunch of religious stuff for God. You are called to share in His life. “I am the vine you are the branches” Jesus told His disciples. (See John 17.) What does a branch do to produce fruit? What work does a branch perform? Nothing!
Our role as branches is to rest in Christ, to trust in His work, and to abide in His life. Abiding takes precedence over working hard and doing more stuff. Stop doing, start being! Rest in who you are, and who you belong too.
Retire from your labors! Quit trying to be a better person, and just be Christ’s beloved Child! You belong to Him. You are defined by Him. Nothing you do defines you. Christ alone defines you.
Rest in the reality of your adoption, and inclusion into the life of Christ. This is what the Good News joyously announces to us. We are not worker bees, working up a sweat for God. We are the beloved of God. In sharing the life of Christ, we bear fruit!
Trying to improve your life this year? Trying to become a better Christian?
Only Christ in you can. Jesus is the author and perfecter of your faith. (Hebrew 12:2)
Trust in Christ, and His finished work. Let Him work on you. Let Him love you, and transform your behavior. You can’t work on your life simply because your life is not a reality anymore. Your life is hidden in Christ (Col. 3), and you have died with Christ (Romans 6).
You are dead! Dead people can’t improve themselves!
You can, however, trust in Christ. This is what Grace does to us. When we trust in Grace more than we trust in our foolish attempts of self-improvement, we will effortlessly manifest everything God has for us. One definition of Grace is “Divine empowerment.” Grace saves you, grace sustains you, and grace perfects you! All you do is open your eyes and trust Jesus. It’s no sweat off your brow, it’s all the work of Christ.
Rest in Christ, and watch in amazement as everything you thought you had to drum up through self effort starts happening all around you effortlessly! Your the branch! You produce fruit naturally, as long as your self efforts stay out of the way!
Happy New Year! :)
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