March 15, 2013

Grace: Jump in, the Water's Great!

My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth.

I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in.

And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.

Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

~ Ephesians 3:14-19

I love Jesus and anyone who really knows me knows that. It's written on my heart and it's exampled in everything I do, well... for the most part. I must confess, I mess up from time to time, but that's OK. I'm not perfect and that's OK because HE is. He never asked me to be perfect... only faithful. His Grace is all I need.

Jesus loves me just as I am and that's my favourite part!

The majority of those who question what I believe, in particular how I live are those who haven't experienced the fullness of God's Amazing Grace, who may be unsure of their position in Christ, who are still bound by legalism in the Church. 

Legalism (otherwise known as "The Law" or "Old Covenant") is a loss of the understanding that Grace is the foundation.
"Legalism is a usually pejorative term referring to an over-emphasis on discipline of conduct, or legal ideas, usually implying an allegation of misguided rigour, pride, superficiality, the neglect of mercy, and ignorance of the grace of God or emphasizing the letter of law over the spirit. Legalism is alleged against any view that obedience to law, not faith in God's grace, is the pre-eminent principle of redemption." {Wikipedia}


Legalism is like being married to a fault-finding husband; who is powerless, doesn't lift a finger to help you, who is always irritatingly right (in their own eyes), who is impotent and leaves you barren because no life can ever be produced and is always accusing you, leaving you feeling guilty at every turn. Sounds like a great marriage doesn't it?! NOT

A life that is characterized by, "What needs to be improved?" is a life lived in legalism. 

Just imagine Jesus' response, a husband who loved you so much that He died in the most horrible fashion while you (the human race) were casting lots, mocking or denying Him - while we were yet sinners. He didn't wait until we had asked forgiveness. He didn't wait until we had it all together (btw, that's not possible), He didn't tell us to come back to Him when we got cleaned up or looked the part. He loves us no matter what we've done, doing or are going to do.

What would He have to say about all of this?

I imagine Him with tears streaming down His face, "Do you think I am an insecure husband? Did you think that I didn't know you had imperfections and idiosyncrasies? I never had any illusions! I knew everything about you when I took you on, embraced you. I am the perfect husband to my bride. I can love you unconditionally because the integrity of heaven's high court of justice was FULLY satisfied by me on the cross on your behalf. You've been redeemed from that abusive husband. 24 hours a day, the Father's love and acceptance can pour into you."

It's not about what we do for God; our works for the Kingdom, our spiritual resume, doing "stuff" to make us feel more holy or worthy or more righteous to prove we are living a pure life. It's about whether or not our lives attract people to the Gospel!

How can you tell if you are an apprentice of Jesus? People respond to you like they did to Jesus; people are drawn to you, you are sought out and people ask for help from you. People like you, they respect you, and want to live like you live!

I'm not interested in cloning myself, controlling or shaming people to walk the "right path". I will not use guilt or fear as a tool to be a witness for Jesus. I will never fit into a stereotypical "church lady" or even fit the "Pastor's Wife" mold for that matter. God loves me the way I am! I want freedom, life, blessings, signs and wonders, peace, fruitfulness, and His presence that is brought through Grace.  This is possible when I live only under the new covenant, the law of life.

We may mature at different levels and speeds but I encourage you, don't despise your small beginnings because He doesn't!

God celebrates every one of our steps - not just milestones or just our victories - EVERY STEP. Think about when your child took their first steps - did you only shout for joy when they started running or did you cheer and clap and shout after their very first attempt and finally their very first step? How is our Father God any different? He's not. We are His children and He celebrates the exact same way over us

This is why I belong to His Family! :)

If Grace is an ocean, we're all sinking. This, my friends, is truly GOOD NEWS. 

Bits and pieces were taken from posts I wrote in February 2007. Those articles can be found by entering "Grace" into the search bar in the upper right sidebar, right below my ridiculous profile pic. :)

19 comments:

  1. this is a really thoughtful post Shannon, it's good to be part of God's family. there are times when I am truly disappointed in my parents, but that's okay. I'm part of an even bigger family.

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  2. Shannon you are an inspiration and I love when you write posts like this. You have a very unique way of sharing your faith and I appreciate it.

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    1. Thanks Kim, that means a lot to me.

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  3. This is such a powerful and inspirational post Shannon. Thanks for sharing and being so passionate about it! :)

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    1. Thanks Brandi. When I realized it wasn't performance based but all about a relationship, it's easy to get excited about it. :)

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  4. I'll be bookmarking this post to refer to often. Truly a powerful and uplifting post...especially your last line.

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    1. On Sunday we sang, "Oh how Jesus loves us" by the David Crowder Band, this message of Grace has been growing in my heart all week long.

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  5. You do know I'm sitting here applauding!
    This is a humbling, honest post which is succinctly supported by scripture. Jesus NEVER said we had to change or become something......God can affect that change within us without using other humans to point fingers at us, stimulating change via shame.
    Before coming to Christ there were Christians who I suspect took more of a legalistic stance and they most certainly didn't draw me to Jesus. It was the Christians who accepted me as I was, the ones whom I could relate to, they were the ones whose seeds found fertile ground.
    As someone who endevors to do the same I appreciate this article and of course love your beautiful heart.

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    1. Exactly, thanks Julie. It is God who brings the change in our lives. Jesus brought freedom to people's lives and never once did he use shame. He's awesome like that.

      Now... how he dealt with the religious, legalistic crowd was a different story. :)

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  6. A very powerful post and 100% accurate! I love your faith in the Lord and how you are not afraid to share it! Thank you for uplifting my day!

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    1. Thanks Jennifer, I'm glad I could help lift up your day.

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  7. You are such a powerful witness and example. I had to sit here and reflect for a few minutes on all that you wrote. Thank you.

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    1. Those pauses for reflection are great moments in life to have. :)

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  8. Quick story: I was drowning in legalism at one point in my life. It was so bad that, being a perfectionist, I thought I could NEVER please God and should therefore take my life.

    BUT, God in His infinite GRACE and mercy had us go to a marriage weekend, and there I heard a sermon on grace that changed my life. Now I bask in God's grace, and I'm not "trying to please God," I know that I already do -- at all times -- because I have put on Christ and He lives in me.

    Holiness is from and through Christ, and it flows out of our relationship with Him. When Scripture says to "be holy", it's saying "keep on being holy," as you already have been made holy.

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    1. That's an awesome testimony Tanya, thank you for sharing it here.

      "Holiness is from and through Christ, and it flows out of our relationship with Him. When Scripture says to "be holy", it's saying "keep on being holy," as you already have been made holy." I love that! <3

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  9. Everything I read from you, from the simplest FB status, is so inspiring to me and speaks to me. This especially, I needed to hear today!

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Thanks for taking the time to comment!!