Newsflash. I remain imperfect. I still make mistakes. I put my foot in my mouth again. And I continue to be … a ‘worthy’ recipient of God’s grace. It’s God’s gift to me, to us humans.
[All] are made right with God by His grace. This is a free gift. [All] are made right with God by being made free from sin through Christ Jesus.
Romans 3:24 ERV
I confess. What I’ve seen recently in (and of and from) the world has had the tendency to make me an angry Christian. Some might say that’s an oxymoron. That may be. Do I have the right to be angry about what others are doing/believing? In answer, let me put it another way: Do I have the right to be angry about what I perceive God is NOT doing?
I confess. If I haven’t been an angry Christian because of what I see, I’ve had the tendency to be a “sorry for them who don’t know, and especially for them who choose wrongly” Christian. Right. Forgive them, for they know not. This morning, the rude, rued awakening is that both these feelings stem from pride.
There are two facets of God and faith that I have been pondering – that I have misunderstood until today. One is my part in my salvation. Surely, I have a part in it? Aren’t I choosing to believe?
“…Paul knew, both from personal experience and from Scripture, how deeply embedded in our fallen hearts is the pride that wants to take some of the credit for being our own savior. Even if we acknowledge that God is the primary agent in our salvation, we’re still prone to claim that we had something to do with it, so that we can boast.”
Steven J Cole, Bible.org, Faith vs Pride
So, no, it’s not my choice. At least, not in that initial, life-changing, soul-saving moment. God gifted me with faith. He changed my heart. Perhaps all I have ever done is simply to realize how much I haven’t done, how much I’m not capable of doing. Maybe the one thing I have done is hit rock bottom, realizing how little I know about how much I need God’s grace. Again. Surely, there’s nothing to be proud of in being a screw up.
Cole quotes C. S. Lewis:
“Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good – above all, that we are better than someone else – I think we may be sure that we are being acted upon, not by God, but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget yourself altogether.”
There is hope here. Hope that I will someday be able to simply forget myself ‘altogether’, and know only God and the peace that surpasses. That would be a true moment of Sharing His Story, of not taking my story in the slightest boastful way.
The other thing that has been made clear to me is what it means that “God hardens hearts”. In a sense, then, I suppose this means that even disbelief comes from God, although this does not compute. Maybe it has to do with the season a person is in. Maybe it is a piece of how we are used by God, to allow Him to make others right with Him.
… God worked all this out in a way that allows Him to judge people fairly and still make right any person who has faith in Jesus.
Romans 3:26 ERV
That God would want someone’s heart to be hard is beyond me. But this must be why I am instructed to NOT rely on my own understanding. Thinking “I get it” is actually yet another form of that pride.
Do I have the right to be angry or to pity the condition of other souls? The list of commandments, impossible for me to follow – this much I know – has been reduced to two: Love my Maker with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, trusting that He knows what He is doing, and to Love my neighbor as I do love myself. Do I get mad at myself when I mess up either of these? Should I blame myself? Love the sinner, hate the sin. Read Romans 7 again. Know what my part is now that my heart has been changed.
Just be sure you live as God’s people in a way that honors the Good News of Christ… Stand together with the same purpose… Work together like a team to help others believe the Good News.
Philippians 1:27 ERV