Tag: believe

Christian, Why Aren’t You Pounding On My Door?

It’s not an issue of debate, at least, probably not for you.

In sync with your faith understanding and interpretation of the Bible, you believe hell is absolutely real and anyone who doesn’t repent, say the “sinner’s prayer,” and make the proper life adjustments is destined to spend eternity there.

For you, hell is a God appointed, forever place of unbearable torture and suffering where the occupant’s greatest desire is to die, but they can’t—it’s hell, their due punishment for rejecting a holy and just God.

Therefore, the understood purpose of Jesus is to communicate and manifest God’s love to people while making it possible for them, through their repentance and faith, to be “saved” from the terrifying, agonizing, eternal reality God has prepared for them if they don’t love Him back in return. In your mind, perhaps God doesn’t exactly “send” people to hell nor desire their eternal demise, but they rather choose it. Either way, at the very least, God allows hell for the unbelieving, is holy in doing so, and your prescribed mission is, out of love and obedience, to do everything you can to keep people from going there.

I’m not being critical nor condemning of your faith understanding, just descriptive.

Which leaves me with a question.

If you believe hell is so real and terrible, God loves me enough to send His Son to die a gruesome death on a cross to make it possible for me to avoid it, and you are His plan to tell me all about it so that I can believe all the right things to escape it, why aren’t you pounding on my door every minute of every day to convince me of it? Even if I should turn away, brush you off, or even reject it all together, why don’t you keep relentlessly pursuing it? It’s a hell of eternal torment that you believe in, is it not?

What could possibly be more important? Certainly, not your marriage, family, career, or enjoyed way of life—that would be ridiculously selfish in contrast to the eternal suffering of even just one person, especially in the kind of hell to which you subscribe. What kind of twisted love could one possibly possess that would ever consider resting for just a moment, knowing the potential result if you do?

With millions of “lost” people, you believe, standing at the edge of forever fire only a heartbeat away from eternal torture, how is it that you can be doing, investing, spending, prioritizing, and participating in anything less than the direct pleading, door-pounding, begging, and drawing of every person possible?

And what about your behavior? I hear that your faith tradition believes that little bugger can actually become a stumbling block, even unto the saving faith of another. With all due respect, as much as you seem to be comfortable in talking about everyone else’s personal conduct, for just a moment, can we talk about yours? To think that, for example, an overweight, gluttonous pastor or smoking parishioner might be the primary reason a person concludes, “this whole Jesus thing isn’t for me,” shouldn’t that send every Christian to their local Gold’s Gym after Sunday preaching, not the typical gorging at Golden Corral commonly themed? If that doesn’t potentially shutdown a heathen’s moment of saving faith, what about your 50% divorce rate? What about the 60% of church leaders who watch porn? What about all the church gossip and political infighting? We’re talking about a hell of eternal torment that you believe in, are we not?

Which reminds me, I also recall a couple central, pivotal passages from the Bible that are highly faith defining. One dictates that in actuality, it’s “God’s kindness that leads to repentance” and the other, “the ministry of the Law is death.” So, wait a second. If a white-hot hell is so real and repentance is the sure ticket to the cool breezes of heaven, shouldn’t we be the kindest people on planet earth and exuding a ministry of Grace like the world has never seen? Shouldn’t we be revered in every corner of the planet as being the gentlest, most compassionate, radically gracious, unconditional loving, patient, selfless, generous, serving, and humble people ever known upon the earth—even to a fault?

I know this might be a tough question to answer, but in light of the seriousness of your claims about hell, why isn’t yours a clear, resounding, and flat out earth-shaking lifestyle of relentless kindness, radical Grace, and compassionate character that’s pounding at the doors of every heart and mind in every moment of every day to convince them? I hate to ask this yet again, but this is an eternal hell of unimaginable pain, suffering, and brutal torture at the hands of demons that we are talking about, is it not?

I, and many others, have been carefully listening for your answer, and perhaps we have sadly received it. For as much as this is difficult to say, the truth is, our doors have almost never felt your genuine knock, our hearts rarely ever hear the plea of your kindness, our eyes see so much hypocrisy, and our souls starve in absence of observing and feeling any genuine love, acceptance, and true Grace from you.

Rather, if I’m honest, you seem so desperate to insist that your hell is so real and that I need to take it so drastically serious. Yet, I am growing more and more convinced that, by all the things you do and don’t, you yourself don’t actually believe it, perhaps not even in Jesus either. For if you did, with all due respect, I just have to believe you’d be so much more loving, so much more kinder, so much more gracious, so much more concerned about your own walk, and so much more focused on loving, respecting, accepting, and pursuing mine—you know, like Jesus.

Instead, I see state-of-the-art church buildings, lighting systems, worship packages, budgets, and million dollar pastoral homes and salaries. I see Christian clubs with crosses on top where like-minded, like-skinned people gather like herds of cattle to daintily drivel amongst themselves and viciously judge the world. I see people who are addicted to the sound of their own spiritual voices, consumed by consuming, and content with making their spiritual satisfaction the idolatrous priority of their faith. I see people leaning on their ideologies to the detriment, harm, and abuse of others. I see people who demonstrate little-to-no restraint in highjacking Jesus for political power, personal empire building, and ministry fame. I see people who are feverishly unkind, selfish, privileged, and pretentious—totally at peace with a faith-life of spiritual navel gazing, people-judging, bible-weaponizing, and personal significance seeking. I see people who marginalize, discriminate, and torment those with whom they disagree, dislike, or conveniently deem to be sinning differently. I see people who view the world as a spiritual project—a pasture of beastly humans to ultimately rope into their brand of religious performance, rule-keeping, soul-milking, and mold-fitting. I see people who have spiritually rationalized nearly every form of evil under the sun while joyfully passing it off as biblical faithfulness. For much of modern Christianity has become so thin, white, privileged, cutting, and square, you could use it as piece of paper—best crumpled up and discarded, to be sure. “LeBron pulls up, he shoots, he scores”—all of it, into file thirteen.

If your hell is so true and your faith so loving, how in the world could you ever have time, energy, imagination, resources, or heart for becoming so much of what Jesus is clearly not?

Perhaps the real truth is, “hell” is only as important to you as far as it involves theological debates, condemning perceived sinners, drawing lines, spiritual justifying your platform, mission, and pride, and fearing people into your beliefs.

It obviously doesn’t bother you—that much. Cause you to love—that much. Inspire your kindness and graciousness—that much, nor compels your every all.

Hell—it’s all so convenient, is it not?

With all due respect, if you want me to believe your hell is so real, you are going to have to do a lot better at convincing me that you actually believe it, first.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

The Message From God You’ve Never Heard

Deep within us all, God has embedded His Light, the faith of Christ within us—every human an equal recipient. We all possess the faith of Jesus, a faith that fully knows and trusts the true essence and heart of the Father. Yet, darkness always seeks a way to condemn and imprison the Light our soul has always possessed in hopes we never awaken to it. Soon, it becomes demonized, silenced, and even unrecognizable within us—many of us walking around unaware or the faith of Christ, His Light within us. Tragically, it’s all become so religiously deformed, twisted, covered over, trampled and christianized inside.

Adam and Eve embraced the Light, saw themselves as Light, and gave it all a cherished harbor within. In their faith understanding, God, themselves, and all of life was a beautiful Garden—forever whole, pure, free, and alive. The faith of Christ within them had become their faith within them—a perfect communion. Yet, in a moment of question, they bit the lie that the Light they held to be Truth was actually darkness—needing correction, deserving of condemnation, and requiring redemption from an angry God. In their minds, all the sudden God became untrustable, Love became conditional, we became condemnable, and the Garden became a hopeless game of God-fearing, God-chasing appeasement. Religion is always the result of the Light becoming something to us that God isn’t, we aren’t, and God never had in mind.

Enter Grace.

Grace is God pinging your soul in hopes of awakening you to the true Light you have always possessed and longed to believe. It’s the call of Jesus to be unwrapped from the burial clothes that bind your heart from embracing true Life. For religion rings true to the flesh, but Grace rings true to the soul. It’s the Deep calling to your depth. It’s the true faith of Christ within you crying out to become your faith within you. It’s the moment your religious, christianized understanding is overridden by your Spirit and though you can’t explain it and your mind can’t chart it, you taste the Light and your heart knows it to be True, even as it shakes you to your core. It’s breathing for the first time and realizing, all this time, you weren’t breathing at all. It’s Grace releasing, rekindling, and recalibrating the caverns of your soul to what it’s always known and your heart has longed to believe—all is Grace.

This is the message from God you’ve never heard, but your soul has always believed, and your heart is desperate for you to embrace.

God is Love- Whatever sense of condemnation, shame, disappointment, or lack you have towards yourself, it does not come from God—it can’t. Run from any message that puts any conditions, any hell, or any distance between you and Him—all these our constructs of religious projection.

Grace awakens our perceptions to the true nature of God and His affection for us. The purpose of Christ is not simply that we believe in Him, but that we believe in God like Him—His faith within us becomes our faith within us. Jesus knows no other nature, aspect, or trait of God other than pure, unconditional Love. His sinless life before God is our sinless life before God—His performance in life is our performance in life. Love is all, defines all, wins all, and conquers all—especially us. Jesus has no sense of God as being nor exuding anything but unyielding Love.

To the delight of our soul, when we allow ourselves to see God the way Jesus does, we discover there is no other message from God to and for our lives other than Love—no fine print, conditional clauses, trap doors, loop-holes or dropping axes. Love unhinges the tenets of the religious and reveals the evil forces behind their call to one-eyed open living, sin-managing, God-appeasing, self-improving, people-judging, and hell-fearing. Only the graceless, self-righteous, privileged, and judgmental ever feel the force of God’s displeasure as Grace confronts their religious, doubting, selfish, love-drained souls.

God is Love from top to bottom, beginning to end—inside and out. The expanse of God who is Love is boundless, limitless, unrestricted, and unrestrained. His actions and reactions to every molecule and movement of your life is always Love.

God is pedal-to-the-metal in love with you—always has been, always will be.

To Believe Is To Rest- Despite what many may hold to be true, faith is not a decision, choice, or invitational response. Faith is a gift from God welling up from within. It’s the awakening of our heart, mind, and soul to the Jesus that has always been within us, and the God whose arms have always been around us.

To believe is to rest in Grace and the illimitable goodness of God, trusting its full sufficiency for every aspect of our lives. Pursuing God, chasing after God, hungering for more God, and begging God to come, bless, and even forgive, though all seemingly spiritual pursuits, are actually confessions that He is not already here, His grace is not sufficient, and His choosing of us is somehow inadequate. A restless, appeasing, and fearing heart before Jesus is a disbelieving heart before Jesus.

Grace postures our entire being onto a foundation of rest—convinced we can never over-portray or over-characterize the goodness, love, and graciousness of God, nor can we ever believe too much in the exclusive, unsurpassed power of Grace to guide, change, and enable us in all things.

Believing in the unfathomable Love that is God and declaring His grace-singularity of heart, mind, and will is not a sign of human weakness, faith depravity, or theological waywardness. If anything, it is our under-believing, under-ascribing, under-estimating, and under-characterizing of His Love purity that reveals the x-ray of our religiously infected souls as in our doubts and flesh addiction, we live our lives restlessly turning outside of Jesus to find peace with God, peace with ourselves, and peace with people.

You Are The Relationship- The modern Christian idea that God wants a “relationship” with you is highly misleading and in fact, unfounded in scripture. Interestingly enough, there is not even a single mention in all the Bible of “inviting Jesus into your heart.” Rather, the concept of a personal relationship with Jesus has been projected back into the Bible and onto the Gospel by our fleshly, religious desire to have some level of human control and credit with God, and even a spiritual notch on our belt that distinguishes us as above others.

A “relationship” requires the performance, maintenance, and continual contributing desire of both parties. Thus, a relationship can have varying levels of closeness and even become completely broken. This is not what we have with Jesus nor what He has in mind with or for us. Instead, the Gospel proclaims our communion with God, established long before our earthly arrival and even before His.

Our union with God is of the same fabric as the Trinity. It is not a relationship, it is a singular entity based not on desire, performance, or the like, but is in fact a whole union. We are not in a relationship with Christ, we are Christ–He is us, we are Him. Jesus is not a person to invite into your life or heart, He is your life and heart, irrevocably.

This is the awakening, revealed by Grace, and manifested by Jesus. There is no “relationship” with Jesus, God, or the Holy Spirit to be had, for we ARE the relationship—different, but equally connected. Thus, in full union and communion. 

The Gospel doesn’t become real the moment one invites Jesus into their heart, it becomes real the moment they realize He had been there all along.

The Bible Is The Beginning Not The End- If the writers of the Bible were infallible in their understanding of God and their interpretation of His actions among them, there would be no need for the infallible One, Jesus Christ.

If the writers of the Bible perfectly captured the desires of God and His every design for all of life and living, there would be no need for the Perfect One, Jesus Christ.

If the writers of the Bible captured the sum, conclusion, and depth of all that is truth, there would be no need for the One who is Truth to reveal it and His Spirit to guide us in it.

There’s a big difference between adding to the Bible and adding to our understanding of it. The Bible is not a case-closed, all-conclusive blueprint of God and all that relates to Him, but rather a catalyst towards our diving into stream upon stream of never ending, progressive revelation welling up from our awakening to Jesus and His Gospel of Grace.

The people who demand the infallibility of the Bible are often the ones demanding the infallibility of their understanding of the Bible—all for the purpose of creating a spiritual, self-righteous safe haven in which to turn off their brains, and from which to control and judge others.

Notice, the corner of America where there is often the most rampant manifestations of spiritual condemnation, bigotry, and hate aren’t called the Jesus-belt, or the Love-belt, but rather—the Bible-belt.

It’s Not About Improvement- So much of what is taught about spiritual growth and the Christian life is the idea that through spiritual disciplines, effort, and behavior modification, one is to strive to become something tomorrow that they aren’t today. Go to church, pray hard, bury your head in the Bible, press into Jesus, and get “radical” for Christ, and sanctification and spiritual maturity will soon follow. Sadly, nothing ever truly gets better upon the treadmill of sin-management, self-improvement, and spiritual striving—enough is never enough. It’s all a diabolical prescription pimped as a life of fulfillment that in fact leads to a life tragically wasted.

For no matter our greatest intentions or desires, nor even in our best moments of believing or behaving, our spiritual performance always breaks down. In the end, whether with God, ourselves, or others, the good that we know we should do is not what we do, and once again, our capacity to escape ourselves is found foolishly and drastically insufficient. All that’s left in the end is a life of pretending riddled with inner shame and guilt as we gloss tons of Christian lipstick onto the pig of our self-righteousness.

Thankfully, the Christian life isn’t a test, it’s a rest. It’s not about becoming something tomorrow you aren’t today through a hopeless life of back-breaking spiritual gymnastics. Rather, it’s about becoming more of the person you already are in Christ.

Jesus came, not to merely do something for you, but to do something to you. The cross is one and done—you are a completely finished masterpiece of the Master. You are whole, holy, pure, righteous, sanctified, justified, and lack no spiritual blessing—as is. There is nothing to improve about you, only everything to believe about you. That’s why the Holy Spirit is forever pursuing your heart, not to convict you of failure, but to convince you of your righteousness—knowing that the more you believe it, the more you will live it. For the Christian life is the beautiful process of awakening to who we truly are because of Jesus, that our actions might catch up to our true, divine identities.

Christians Are Often The Ones In Most Need Of Saving- In the scriptures centered around Jesus, the people who we would expect to know Him the best, in fact, turn out to truly know Him the least–the ones expected to know Him the least, turn out to truly know Him the best.

In the same way, perhaps the “world” and the “lost” that are often seen as the unbelieving, subhuman sinners of the planet, are in actuality, not the “world” and the “lost” at all.

Rather, maybe just maybe, it’s the self-righteous, spiritually elite, legalistic, Grace-withholding, religious ones that turn out to be those that are truly “lost” and of the “world.” For there is no greater form of being “lost” than believing you are so close to God while being so far away, and there is no greater form of “worldliness” than to turn to ones spiritual performance (flesh), religious pride, and the condemnation of others for your sense of righteousness, salvation, and spiritual purpose and satisfaction.

Maybe, just maybe, the “world” and the “lost” need far less saving than Christians would ever want nor dare to believe, and “Christians” need far more saving than the “world” and the “lost” would ever dream.

Maybe just maybe, the “Church” isn’t the believing ones who are convinced their “in,” and grasp this status with pride believing it’s the just reward of their faith, behavior, and do-gooding, but rather it’s the humble ones–the meek, who conclude they’re probably “out,” but nonetheless search, believe, and find rest in Love anyways, simply because it’s the best way to live and to reflect and give Life.

Maybe, just maybe, the bride of Christ isn’t the one adorned in beauty and white, concealing a religious darkness within, but rather the ugly, dirty one, who knows nothing of make-up and a lipstick ladened grin, whose Light is on the inside, emerging from within–whether they’re aware or not matters not, it’s there, and Jesus sees Himself, and smiles, “let the wedding begin.”

You Are God’s Perfect Will- The idea that God has a perfect will for your life and you need to make your life’s ardent pursuit the finding and fulfilling of it, is all highly misleading. The Americanized version of the Christian life would have us all believe that God has some “big” thing for us to do and become that will show ourselves to be genuine and faithful in following Jesus. I say, hogwash.

You are God’s perfect will, you are the big thing God is doing in the world. You, being fully you, and doing what you love to do in ways that honor God, love people, and serve humanity is far closer to His heart.

In fact, if any of your sense of worth, significance, and righteousness in life can be reduced, compromised, or questioned by your failure, mistakes, inadequacies, shortcomings, limits, or lack of production, then I can assure you that what you have is not a sense of your true Christ-righteousness and worth, but rather a self-righteousness and worth.

If you were to do nothing more with your life and instead fail and waste it in every way, you would be loved and lovable no differently and valued and valuable no less. For God’s perfect will for your life is not a plan charted, a path traveled, a series of accomplishments completed, or destinies discerned and fulfilled. Rather, God’s perfect will is a person, and that person is you, as is. You are a complete, whole, and finished work of Jesus that is irrevocably and irreversibly beautiful, whole, and pure.

What’s God’s perfect will? You, being fully you.

This is the message from God you’ve never heard, your soul knows to be True, and your heart pleads for you to embrace .

God is Love.

To believe is to rest.

You are the relationship.

The Bible is the beginning, not the end.

It’s not about improvement.

Christians are often the ones in most need of saving.

You are God’s perfect will.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”  -Galatians 2:20

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Never Give Up

We all have hopes and dreams.

God puts hopes and dreams in our hearts and actually promises to carry out the good work He once begun in us. God puts purpose, plans, hopes and dreams in all of our lives, and then takes the primary responsibility of making them become a reality.

Yet, at times it seems like God is asleep at the wheel in His efforts to move our lives forward.  We go through challenges, times of waiting, and seasons where God seems silent and uninvolved. No one is exempt. If you are facing adversity, experiencing a loss of hope, and wondering if God has given up on you, take comfort in the fact that everybody must take this journey of faith.

Yet, what we believe during these times of waiting, worrying, and wondering is critical to seeing and experiencing God in the midst of it all, and most importantly, making sure we don’t give up.

Here are some important things to believe…

1) God never gives up on you- It’s that simple. God never gives up on you, His faithfulness is forever. No matter how you may feel, God is at work in your life with your best interests at heart. At this moment, it may not all make sense or seem like He is doing much of anything. But God promises that He will never leave your nor forsake you, nor will He stop short of making the very most of your life according to His purposes and plan.

2) God’s dreams for your life lie within you being yourself- The Christian life is best lived by you waking up and living. Be yourself. Trying to be someone else or something you are not will only lead to going in a different direction than God is trying to lead you. God doesn’t need you to become something in order to use you and fulfill dreams, He desires to use you and fulfill dreams right here and now because He has already made you into what He needs you to be. You are a new creation in Christ, lacking no spiritual blessing. Faith is what releases your newly created self for God’s use and the fulfilling of dreams. Don’t give up because you feel you are disqualified or inadequate. Jesus qualifies you and has made you completely adequate! Believe it, receive it, and live it!

3) God will make your life significant- Trust Jesus to do the heavy lifting, door opening, and opportunity bringing. Trying to force your way forward and make things happen will only leave you further behind. Jesus is not interested in spiritual gymnastics, just faith. Trust Jesus to create your influence and significance.  Meditate on God’s word, believe in His goodness for your life and watch your significance increase effortlessly. Trying to make a name and future for yourself is an ultimate expression of evil. It puts your trust in Christ’s performance in the back seat, and your trying and striving to make things happen in the front.

4) God is more interested in your faith than your performance- Don’t concentrate on your failures, shortcomings, and blind spots, Jesus isn’t. If your future hinged on your performance, you wouldn’t have a future.  Faith is what releases God to will and act according to His purposes in your life, not effort. Faith is what brings forward movement, not good works.  God is not punishing you or holding you back because of anything in your past or present.  Jesus paid it all. However, God is interested in your faith. Not perfect, enormous faith. Just faith. Trusting, resting, believing in Him.

5) God’s timing is perfect- Waiting is the hardest part. We feel like giving up often in times of waiting. Find me a person who feels like giving up and you will have found a person who has grown weary of waiting at some level or another. Waiting for things to get better, for things to change, for things to start moving forward etc. We suspect God is on to other things, and perhaps, therefore so should we.

Is there a time to backpedal and take a different course? Perhaps. Give up? Never. That is a card you need to take out of the deck of your life.

Wait as long as it takes. Move only when God moves. His timing is perfect. Trust, rest, and believe. He who began a good work in you WILL carry into completion. He is for you, with you, and ahead of you. Don’t lose heart, nothing is impossible with God.

For more on this subject, enjoy my ebook “Rise Above” downloadable (here).

 

 

You Are Loved

At some intellectual level, most people “think” God loves them to some degree or another. Usually, it is perceived to be with a certain  measure of conditions or limits. Yet, nonetheless, in our minds, we embrace the thought that God loves us. But, do we “believe” God loves us?  Big difference. Believing God loves us moves us from thinking it to be true, to knowing it to be true.

In many relationships, people ask each other, “Do you love me?” Sometimes, frequently.  The reason why they continually ask is because though they may think the person loves them, they don’t truly believe it. The repeated questions seeks to convince themselves of what they are not convinced.

Jesus once said, “…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”  Truth that isn’t believed can’t help you. If you don’t believe a person loves you, the truth of their love can’t get through to you. Our thoughts are important, but our beliefs are perhaps the most powerful force God has given to us. Through belief, and belief alone, God moves in and through our lives.

Do you believe God loves you? Your answer to this question can be one of the most influencing realities in your life.

Conversely, there are many people who are quick to declare their love for Jesus.  Modern Christianity has nearly made a religion out of our love for Jesus.  In fact, it’s very easy today to leave a Christian bookstore, church service, or conference with the very real feeling, “after hearing or reading all that, I can never do enough for Jesus, nor love Jesus enough” And just when you think you are making some headway, someone writes another book, speaks another message, or develops another conference that raises the bar once again with the reality, “there is something more that you aren’t doing now that you need to get after.”

Somehow, we have believed the lie that it’s our love for Jesus that authenticates and increases our closeness with Jesus. We actually believe that when Jesus said, “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” he was actually giving us a command He expects we can and should fulfill. The truth is, Jesus used that statement to show us out. His admonition is purposed on giving us a window into the reality that we can never live up to the standards of God and His Kingdom. Our lives before faith in Christ in His finishing work on the cross are as good as dead. No effort, service, act of worship, sacrifice, or pursuit from us can ever bridge the gap.  Furthermore, after salvation through faith, no effort, service, act of worship, sacrifice, or pursuit authenticates nor draws us any closer to Jesus. And for sure, none of it pleases God without being done from a foundation of faith in God’s work, not our work, His accomplishment, not ours. It’s as if we have turned our faithfulness as followers of Jesus into a way to convince ourselves of what we aren’t convinced… God loves us and His Grace is sufficient.  We have turned our Christian acts of service into a repeating deep, spiritual question for God, “Do you love me?”, “Is your love for me, real?” “Did it work?” “Is it enough?”

In fact, contrast two people in the Bible, the disciples Peter and John.

It was Peter that boasted of His love and service for Jesus.

‘Even if all fall away, I will not.’ ‘I tell you the truth’ Jesus answered, ‘today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times’, But Peter insisted emphatically, ‘even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the others said the same. -Mark 14:29-31 

Peter was insulted that His love and faithfulness towards Jesus were questioned.  He was so confident in his following abilities and service record that to suggest there would be any chink in his armor of devotion was less than an easy pill for Peter to swallow. Peter lived with the spirit of the Law in his heart that believed that closeness with Jesus and the authentication of one’s faith could be achieved through performance. It is this same spirit that is behind what we find today in the performance-driven Christian.

Yet, what was the result? Peter’s boasting of his love for Jesus was quickly followed by his denial of Jesus, three times in fact. Maybe Peter’s heart was in the right place, but His faith was in the wrong place… himself and his love. And it didn’t take long for that foundation to break down.

Contrast Peter with John.

It’s interesting that John refers to himself not as the disciple who loved Jesus, but rather “the disciple Jesus loved.” Now, we might think this was something other people said of John, but  it’s only in John’s own writings that these references are found. John is the one that says Jesus loved him. Is John boasting that He was loved and the other disciples were not, or that he was loved more? No, not all. Rather, John simply has a sure sense that He is loved by Jesus, and stated such. He didn’t just think it, he believed it. Was he boasting? Perhaps, but only of Jesus’ love for Him. In fact, he apparently equated his identity with Jesus’ love for Him so much that he uses this phrase instead of referring to himself by name.

For John, he didn’t just think Jesus loved him, he believed it all the way. It wasn’t about his love for Jesus, but Jesus’ love for him. Where did this leave John? Not denying Jesus in some distant dark corner, but rather reclining right next to Him.

The disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table. -John 13:23

The more you boast of Jesus’ love for you, through faith, the reality of Jesus closeness to you becomes real. You find yourself with a deep sense of peace, closeness, and rest in the power and presence of Jesus.  Your life and living is not from a spirit of the Law (performance) as it was for Peter, but from a foundation of Grace.

In fact, Jesus once said this to Peter…

No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” John 13:8

Once again, Peter was placing his performance as the foundation of his faith. He was so consumed by serving Jesus and promoting his love for Him, that the thought of being served by Jesus and the importance of such cut against the grain of his mindset and maybe his ego.

The truth is, none of our service to Jesus can draw us closer to Him nor establish our faith. In fact, according to Jesus, unless we receive from Him, we have no part in Him. The way our modern Christianity portrays the Christian life, you would have thought Jesus had said, “Unless you wash my feet in the water of your worship, devotion, sacrifice, and followship, you won’t belong to me.”

With people, it is more blessed to give than receive. But with Jesus, there is no blessing unless you receive, no matter what you give What does God want you to receive? His love and Grace for your life!

You are loved by God, receive it by faith today. Let Jesus wash your feet and serve you. Let Him pour His Grace out for you with all that you are and need.  Let Him give you rest. Boast of Jesus’ love for you, not your love of Jesus. Don’t live your life trying to wash His feet, let Him wash yours. Let His love get through to you through believing it.

It’s this faith that pleases Jesus and receives the blessings and abundance of God for your life. What God wants most from you is for you , by faith, to let Him serve you, not you to serve Him. That’s Grace.

You are loved, believe it!

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10)

© 2017 Chris Kratzer

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