I have trouble with the more concentrated epistles, particularly Paul’s writings and especially Ephesians, which I read this morning. I love the book and have memorized portions of it, but the idea that Christ’s finished work on the cross alone makes me a son of God doesn’t quite compute for me. In my mind, there’s always an addendum: “provided you conduct yourself honorably, practice purity and give God and others your humble service.” I always feel like I’m disqualified because my life is still too much like it was before I committed it to Jesus (though it is very different).
I regularly read Christian testimonies, and when I absorb the soaring details of another’s transformation in Christ, I groan. My life has not changed nearly so dramatically. When I read Scripture and take in the picture of the transcendent life as it was lived and taught by the Apostles, my own life looks like a misunderstanding. People like David Wilkerson and Corrie Ten Boom lived such selfless lives. Why not me?
The notion that has been coming up quite a bit lately (could it be the Holy Spirit talking to me?) is that God accepts me as a son regardless of my performance simply because of what Jesus did. It seems impossible that this could be the case.
But God’s work goes forward regardless of my level of comprehension (Phil. 2:12-13). It’s about faith, not intellectual discernment. Although I haven’t managed through my efforts to produce even a fraction of the self-denial I once believed was required, the Scriptural truth remains that, as a result of the price Jesus paid, I am no longer my own. Jesus paid a dear price, and this gives Him full title to my life. All I can do is to stay close to Him and keep asking for His life to be poured into the hash of my fallen human existence. I’m trying to see my defects as ongoing reminders of how much I needed Jesus to die for me. God’s grace accomplishes what nothing else can.