Mar
30

The Order of Grace — Devotional

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We have all heard that God is a God of order. This is obvious by one glance at a starlit sky on a clear night or a peek into a microscope at the micro-world around us and within us. With God’s creative order in mind, what is the order for the expression of grace in our life? Let me explain the question a little more.

One school of thought seems to be that once we confess Christ, then we begin behaving in a new way and that causes us to be more and more spiritual. I will call this as others have the BELIEVE,BEHAVE,BELONG model.

I suggest that the true biblical model is BELIEVE,BELONG,BEHAVE. We confess Christ and experience the new birth into his spiritual family, then out the relationship we enjoy with him, we begin to demonstrate the family likeness.

Let’s thing about the ramifications of these two views.

BELIEVE,BEHAVE,BELONG
This view certainly puts the pressure on the "believer" to perform, to act in a certain way, to know the lists of do’s and don’ts. While it is true that believers should manifest certain character qualities in their walk with Christ, the heart of the question is the question of the heart. Why do we do what we do? I fear often the BELIEVE,BEHAVE,BELONG model causes people to be more conscious of fitting into a certain mold of their groups making than that of being like Christ.

It also can result in having groups of people all behaving like each other with certain outward actions. Yet, it is the heart that God is concerned about. It can become easy to look like the group by putting on the masks or putting on the show. Just keeping the lists up to date. In such a case, we become play actors and live by comparing ourselves to one another instead of Jesus. Sadly, this becomes the result of a foundation that is built upon BELIEVE, BEHAVE, BELONG. If you do not measure up–you are out! In other words, if your behavior is not in line with the lists, then you are no longer accepted. You do not BELONG.

Now let’s consider the other view. BELIEVE, BELONG, BEHAVE.

Immediately, people will argue, "If you are accepted without regard to how you behave, then you will choose to live a life of sin." May I ask a very serious question? What does it say about a person’s heart when they automatically assume that given a choice devoid of consequences, people would choose a sinful lifestyle over life with Christ? Such thinking demonstrates a "serve out of fear" mentality. Yes, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It’s foolish to think that is no accountability to our creator. The message of Scripture is that God desires relationship with us. He wants to forgive us. He yearns to see us transformed into the image of His own dear Son. He beckons us to come to Him as Father. The New Testament in particular undeniably calls us to relate to Him as our Father Who is in Heaven.

Yes, if you have rejected Him, if you have no regard for Him, if you have renounced any notion of serving Him, then you had better fear the wrath that is to come. The fear of this wrath should awaken repentance in the hardened heart. However, God is after these hard hearts with a burning love that desires intimacy and relationship with the very people who despise Him. Yet, the choice is theirs.

For those who have repented and declared that they believe in Him and desire to serve Him, His invitation is come and drink from my waters of life freely. God’s heart is so big. He loves His kids with an unquenchable love. Once we turn to Him in faith and repentance–WE BELONG! This is the New Testament message loud and clear. John 1:12 says that those who receive him they become authorized children of God. The Spirit of God comes to live inside the person who believes in Christ and begins to move the human heart to relate to God as Abba or Papa! Believing is followed by belonging. Once you belong, the there is a shift. God begins to father you. When you sin, you are corrected (chastened). This is proof of His love for you. The Bible clearly teaches that the person who is not disciplined by Father God does not belong to Him (Hebrews 12). In other words, once we belong to the family, we have a Father who is perfect. He does not fail in His fathering. He knows exactly what needs to be done in order to bring us to repentance. If we persist in our resistance of His desires, then He increases the discipline. Believe me, I understand more clearly than ever how this works. He will allow us to taste the bitter dregs of sin in order to exterminate wrong desires within us. He begins with a gentle rebuke at our wrong thoughts, but He will get the paddle out and allow us to hurt if need be. Such suffering is evidence of His love of us as a child. The loveless parent allows their kids to what they want without consequence. We learn when we meet with pain because we have violated true love. The relationship we are to have with God has to be rooted in love. His perfect love casts out all fear.

We BELIEVE, BELONG, and then through maturing in Christ and being disciplined by a loving Father, we begin to demonstrate Christlike behavior. This is the fruit of the Holy Spirit being cultivated in our lives.

If, however, we focus on teaching people how to simply look like a Christian instead of learning what the real life process of maturing looks like, we will become religious minded just focusing on externals instead of learning to be motivated by love. God is motivated by love toward us. For God so loved the world, that He gave His Son! He is moved by love to cultivate and establish relationship.

How can it be that the church could become a place that tends to turn away the people that God has chosen to turn toward? If we choose to simply focus on what we can see, the externals, we may very well miss what God is after, the heart.

My wife and I have embarked with a small group of other people on a journey to learn more and more about the true nature of the grace of God. I am convinced that is necessary to have a foundation that rests upon BELIEVE,BELONG AND BEHAVE. If we are not secure in whom we belong to, then we will become enslaved to fear and bound to tormentors in our lives.

Please don’t be confused with whether or not a person can leave God’s family. I have been in ministry over 25 years and know of very few people who have ever renounced Christ. I know of a bunch of people, who have struggled trying to live the Christian life. In almost every case, their struggle was rooted in some form of fear. What they needed to be freed, was a greater revelation of God’s love for them.

In my own life, it seems that my struggles always come back to barriers that keep me from fully receiving a full revelation of God’s love.

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Categories : Christian Living

Comments

  1. paul abiedu says:

    i need more of these because as a young pastor it will help me with my sermons. God bless you

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