Friday, July 27, 2012

The letter of the law


Hiiiii! How are you, how are things?
What? How was the beach?

It was great! Korb loves running headfirst into waves taller then his head, then feigning a near-drowning while laughing the whole time. He's def my kid. We didn't see too many duckies (seagulls), he avoided playing in the sand (boo), and we only slightllly pushed his insulin receptors to the limit by force feeding him chocolate water ice. Strangely enough, he wanted nothing to do with boardwalk fries. Maybe he's not my kid. Also, we lost a tent spike, I got a 10th degree sunburn bc I blocked everyone but myself in SPF protected-up-to-100-Kelvin sunscreen, aaaand I got hoodwinked by Manco&Manco Pizza, who were masquerading as Mack&Manco Pizza. Rude.

I'm two weeks away from the end of my 5 week Bio Lect+Lab, and let me tell you - a five week class is NEVER. HAPPENING. AGAIN. Ever. I LOVE science like I love fresh bread, but this class has almost ruined it for me. Between "optional" 10 page papers (not kidding), a professor who I'm pretty sure doubles as a loon (semi kidding) and 6+ hours of homework every other day (not kidding), I'm done. Also, I screwed around in high school bio, so I need to start at step A, not step 11, and they're already on the next continent of information, so basically, this might break my 4.0. As a reforming legalist, that might turn me prematurely grey.

Speaking of reformed legalists, (you're welcome) I wish St. Paul were around so I could have a few words with him. Or a long afternoon over coffee. Or 15 years of discipleship.
Let me back it up. I love the Lord. I've read the Bible cover to cover at least once, read through it at different tempos over the last nine years, and our family is a little more then 1/2 way through the Bible in One Year plan we started in January. To say I like things in black and white would be an understatement. God has graciously given me a desire for righteousness after spending the first 19 years of my life as what some might call a hellion, which might have led to a little pendulum action in the form of turning into a "secret" Pharisee. Which I still contend isn't a bad thing, bc Paul was still calling himself a Pharisee after He was converted by Christ, but hey, I'm not St Paul.
When we started our reading plan last year, it was with the NLT translation of the Bible, while I had always read NIV or NKJV, which is a bit like being used to NJ accent all your life, then taking a vacation to Lancaster, where people speak a little friendlier and with that lovely Dutch lilt that I love so much I will purposely ask the Amish at fairs what is in their pretzels just so I can hear them talk. Creeper alert.
Anyway, same language, same Bible, same message, different accent, so it's like reading it with fresh eyes. Then I come to Romans, which with Ephesians and Proverbs, has always been a favorite book of mine. And Paul has the beautiful audacity to write these words:

"Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law. After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course he is. There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law." (Romans 3:19-31, Emphasis mine.)


How achingly beautiful that is. Truthfully, this is so wonderful and so difficult for me at the same time. I don't know why, but for someone who loves to know the boundaries, the lines, the clauses and consequences so I can stay inside them (which is a delusion), it made me almost...indignant.. at the bold grace God offers in salvation, like somehow I had forgotten that I was and am every single day the pigpen prodigal daughter, desperately in need of that grace and salvation.
Do you hear what Paul is saying? That God counts sinners as righteous. That God justifies them APART from their (inability to) follow the law, by their faith in Christ. That, beloved friends, is the Good News, the Gospel.

Do you know what that does to a legalist like me? Exactly what it should. It humbles me.

I think there may be a line between a genuine hunger and thirst for righteousness, which is a good and holy thing, and a legalistic, judgemental, self-rightousness that will always only end up forsaking grace and the power of the Cross.
I pray God gives me and keeps me in the former.
This is not to say that Christians can do whatever they please (and honestly, it gets old. Sin is pleasant for a season but it really does suck you dry at the end. It promises life and leaves you empty). In fact, there are very strong admonishments against it and consequences for it (see: the entirety of the Bible).
We are to die to sin and be baptized into Christ. But honestly, someone who has received the grace of God, really received it and felt the relief wash over them as their soul resonated with what they've always known was true, that they are sinners and in need of forgiveness, and God has provided it, really, truly, and abundantly, for them... their first response isn't going to be "oh goody, I can't wait to sin and blaspheme all over this grace." We stumble. We sin. We repent, and we abide in Christ.

I'm working it out.

Love you very much,
Chelsea



P.S. the zucchini died, my pumpkins are taking over, I have a perfect daily bread recipe, I need God's wisdom very very very very much in raising my little peanut toddler critter, I aced math, my math creeper is probably getting expelled, and I'm pushing fall in all forms here on the homestead. xoxoxo



2 comments:

  1. Thanks ma :) It's croutons by day two though. Not that we have any left on day two.

    ReplyDelete