In my previous job there were days that I would start my trek down the mountain just as the sun was rising. There is one spot where a particular precipice gives way to the most amazing panoramic views. Two thousand feet above the city, the open skies give the naked eye the ability to see for miles as the expanse of heaven lights up with the vibrant colors of dawn. As light permeates the darkness, the world below awakens to the reality of a fresh new day. There’s something inspiring about watching dawn arrive.
It’s how I would describe the path my life has taken these last few years. New days are dawning and life with God is becoming simpler than I’ve ever known it to be.
I remember the day I accepted the invitation to give my life to Christ. I was desperate and alone, searching to be loved. I didn’t have a clue that in essence I was dying to life on my own and accepting His life as mine. I was put into a discipleship program where I would be taught how to be a Christian. Little did I know it would be my demise as it would lead me down a path of old covenant living in a new covenant relationship. The emphasis would be on me and what I must do.
There were always steps listed at the end of the message telling me what I could do to make things better for myself and for God. As soon as I finished one regime there was another waiting in the wings.
One speaker would take you to dealing with your wounds while another would tell you how to make sure you had no idols. I was exhorted to make sure all sins were confessed, not missing one. I was encouraged to have my quiet time daily, praying my prayer list faithfully. I had to search my heart constantly to make sure all offenders were forgiven. I was told to hunt for vows and roots. Mandates were given constantly encouraging me to rise up and do something. Being a child of God became overwhelming and quite frankly, exhausting.
Christianity became complex. I realized that if someone asked me how I had gotten to where I was in my relationship what I would tell them would shut them down. The sheer process with its lists would overwhelm them.
Something was desperately wrong . If Christ had finished everything why was there still so much to do? The messages were mixed and perplexing. There was nothing simple about this gospel I had accepted as my own.
I began asking questions in an open dialogue with God. How could this be so confusing and draining? Jesus said His burden was easy and His yoke was light. Over these last few years He has awakened me to the ease of His yoke, Jesus + nothing = everything.
As I drove the car home from my daughter’s house this week God and I chatted a little more about the simplicity of it all. He reminded me of the story of John the Baptist. John’s words were straightforward. “Repent, for the kingdom of God is near”. It struck me afresh as He awakened me to see something I’d never seen in the story. The word repent means to change the way you think. John told the people to change the way they were thinking while pointing to Jesus, the way, the truth and the life. Let me explain the significance of this to me.
In John’s time there was a covenant in place in which it was up to the individual. When you read through the books of Leviticus you become aware of what the expectation was. Life was about the individual and what they would attempt to do to meet the requirements of the law. But change was on the horizon. The resurrection opened a new covenant where I would die to the life that was about me and be made alive to the reality of Christ efforts in and through me.
In 2 Corinthians 3 it speaks of the veil that lies over the hearts of man, removed only by Christ. It also speaks of us not being adequate in ourselves to consider anything coming from ourselves. Our adequacy comes from God.
I have read the words in Hebrews 4; on multiple occasions yet now they make sense to me. “For the one who enters God’s rest also rested from his works”. “I no longer live but Christ lives in me.”
This is the simple gospel. It’s not a life where I look within to myself it’s a life where I look within to Christ. He is fused into my being and now we live together. What is He putting on my heart? What is He putting on my mind through this fusion and oneness with Him. What is He inspiring in this moment. I don’t make Him my life, He is my life. It’s not a discipline or a sacrifice. It’s a being, an abiding. I don’t imitate Him I allow Him to be lived through me. It’s a mindset not a to do list.
As I dwell in the reality of Christ’s life lived through me the mandates are fulfilled. Obedience isn’t an issue, nor is forgiveness, they are a result. The focus of what I must do drops away as I embrace what He now does, each and every day, through me.
“The life of a Christian is the life of Christ within us through the Holy Spirit. It is not a life similar to his, it is his life.” J. E. Conant
@copyrighted: 2017 Julie L. Todd