Redemption and Rest

Christianity is, above all, permission to be at rest. When God comes into the soul, His intention is redemptive. He does not come into the soul to give you more work to do, nor does He come into the soul to make you forever wonder whether you are doing enough. He comes into the soul having wiped the slate clean, and having thrown away anything that could possibly count against you as far as you and He are concerned.

Failed Christian lives are not those that have disappointed God; they are lives that think they have. For God has removed the possibility of disappointment. People have said it is impossible for God to be disappointed because that would mean He would have to come to know something about you He did not already know. Which of course is impossible because God knows all things. More than that, however, God knows all things and still chose to love, still chose to accept. To make blameless. This is a product not just of God’s knowledge but also His mercy. God cannot be disappointed in us not because He knows all things about me but because knowing all things about me, He has chosen to love me anyway.

And that exchange cost Him His life. Have you ever wondered why we, as human beings, have this fear of not being enough? Of not being worthy of love? Of being a disappointment? Of being, before God, condemnable? That does not seem like a beneficial evolutionary trait. The human soul seems to be aware of its need for redemption, and everyone is looking for it: Some, by demanding what they are, believe and do be acceptable in they eyes of society (and condemning those who do not agree); others, by embracing the idea that God is an illusion and so there is no such thing as acceptable. Christianity has a different solution: God, becoming a man and dying in our place and paying for the penalty we rightly deserve.

I read a book recently by a Christian author who claims that our need for redemption is not real, and the Cross was not really necessary apart from our own distorted view of God. Jesus went to the Cross, in other words, not because it was necessary in the eyes of God but only in our own. He went to the Cross ultimately to demonstrate how unnecessary going to the Cross was. Not only is such an idea not Biblical, it is also nonsensical. God sent His own Son to die a horrific death over a misunderstanding: What does that say about God?

Not only this, but it is not helpful. This is an attempt to find redemption not through consensus or denial but in a belief that God is simply too nice to condemn us in the first place. Like the others, it is belief that our need for redemption is merely an illusion.

And that is a problem, because the soul needs redemption. It needs truth in the innermost parts if its being. When faced with its own sinfulness, it needs to know a God who was good enough to pay for it by His own blood, not too nice to care about it. Manufacturing a redemption of our own apart from the truth will never satisfy the soul. 

The beauty is that redemption has been provided. We can either find a way for our own redemption, or accept the free gift of redemption Jesus purchased for us by dying on a Cross for our sins. Sometimes the hardest thing for us is to accept a gift we do not think we deserve — or need. But that gift is the only path that will establish in the soul that we are not only loved and forgiven but truly free. This is the rest the soul desires.

Be Still

 

I awoke with the thought this morning, “Be still.” It comes from the oft-quoted verse, “Be still and know that I am God.” The full verse is:

Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

So we can be still, because God is not remaining still. God is on the move, both on the earth and in our lives. Indeed, what causes us to lose our place of stillness is the fear that no one but ourselves is moving: That we are the only ones in charge of this operation, and if we do not do something about it, catastrophe inevitable.

And this feeling can come in all shapes and sizes. We need not be eyes-bulging and paranoid to be one who has lost our peace. Sometimes we can be quite accomplished. Or, we are not fearing big things, like death, but quite small things like managing a trip to the airport. Virtually anything can be a cause for lost peace.

The other day, I found myself in our sun room (which also serves as a place of prayer). The days leading up to that day, I had felt such a sweet, continuous presence of God upon me. But this particular morning, I seemed to be feeling nothing but the hard cold facts of my situation. I felt anxious and finally said to God, “I can’t do this” with tears. Immediately I felt God say, “I am at work; I am doing a deep work.” With that I lay down and fell asleep.

The Lord once said to my wife, “Do not underestimate the power of My comfort.” And the same I feel is true about God’s peace. When we lose His peace, we are not just irritable: We are vulnerable. We were never designed to take matters into our own hands and meet our own needs. It is counter to our true nature. We were made to partner with God in all we do. And when we break that bond (always because of lack of trust) we end up partnering with something else. And it is never good for us.

I think it is often difficult for you and me to understand being still because we do not realize God is at work and is always doing a deep work. We are told often what we must do to better our lives: There is a message broadcast constantly that implicitly assumes we are all alone and on our own. So when we try to practice stillness, it does not work.

But stillness is about realizing God is always at work. That Jesus chose us, that He began a good work, and He is bringing it to completion.

Often I find: The moments I am tempted to think God is not at work are those important moments in life when God is pushing up to the surface a thing in my life He wishes to heal. That is, the times I fear God is not at work are the times God is most at work.

At times I will feel God’s sweet presence and favor; at other times I may recognize God is bringing correction and healing to an area of my life. But there are other times — or shall I say other areas — where God’s work in me is so delicate that my response is not stillness but fear. And fear always leads to control. It may not feel like control to me. The area of my heart demanding control may have been with me for so long that control is unconscious. In those areas, it may seem to me God is nowhere to be found. But this is where He is doing His most profound work.

And this is where stillness is most powerful. For as we come to rest, we let God in. God will be exalted among the nations, He will be exalted on the earth.

And he will be exalted in those places of our hearts where we have long given up hope we can ever be rescued.


Photo by Shane Stagner on Unsplash

 

 

The Christian Soul: Mindfulness

This is our final essay in the series The Christian Soul. Look forward to our new series on The Christian Mind, coming soon 🙂


mindfulness:  noun. The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis; also such a state of awareness. Continue reading “The Christian Soul: Mindfulness”

The Christian Soul: Sovereignty

So much rests on God’s sovereignty.

By sovereignty I mean the idea — and not just the idea but the very fact — that God is in control of our lives. That He is not only allowing but orchestrating every circumstance in which we find ourselves, down the the smallest detail. And it is all for our good. Continue reading “The Christian Soul: Sovereignty”