Tag Archives: Fear

Living life well

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The Gospel ushers us into condemnation-free living. In right-standing with God, and the rich promises of Scripture ours, there is every reason for living life well. These few modern-day parables will help establish you in the good of the New Covenant. It is God’s will for you to live there with confidence and ease.

Life is walking the high-wire, with Christ our safety net. We might slip and fall in the day-to-day, but we remain safely suspended in the lofty context of His victory. When we lose our footing, there is no inevitable devastating plunge to destruction. All there is to do is regain our equilibrium and get walking again. Consequently, we walk the tightrope confidently, without anxiety or fear, no matter how tetchy things might get on a wind-buffeted high-wire from time to time.

Life is an innings at the crease with an umpire who will never give us out. The bales scatter; we’re not out. Caught playing the shot; not out. Plumb LBW; a shake of the head from the umpire. We can’t even be run out. That’s because every ball that life or the devil bowls at us in the cricket game of life has been rendered a no-ball by the cross. Every one remains a scoring opportunity, but none can take our wicket.

Life is a ride on an up-escalator. The inexorable upward momentum of the life of Christ makes it well-nigh impossible for us to lose ground. Serious regression takes concerted, sustained effort, for He wills and works for our salvation at all times. We all stumble from time to time, but as we do, the escalator of His loving-kindness continues to carry us into our preferable future. In all things, He works for our good, even if the things themselves are not of Him, and not good. We can rest in Christ and enjoy the blessings and privileges that are ours by unmerited favour.

Ours is the privileged life of the adopted child. The fact is that we are His four times over – He created us; He redeemed (purchased) us; We are born again of Him; and He adopted us. The adoption aspect of it all was transacted by grace in the moment of faith, and it means that we and all of our stuff are His! We have a new name, and it’s His. And so, on the giant school playground of life on earth, who’s your Daddy? No need to submit to the bullies of anxiety, fear, guilt, condemnation and shame, and no need to inflict them on others. Rather, we live secure in the family to which we’ve been added – the community of Father, Son, Holy Spirit and saints.

I want to live for Jesus. I want to live life well. You do too, or else you wouldn’t bother reading this kind of post. Only those who have received the gift of His perfect righteousness can do that, because everything else falls short. But in Christ, that which we do in response to His love, is done in partnership with His perfection and under its banner. The result is ordinary men and women living lives to the glory of God, and doing so in the mundane of the daily, and at times doing extraordinary exploits.

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Emancipation

It was this time of year five years ago that I stood before the church and proclaimed that from then on the eldership would lead and govern in ways consistent with the New Covenant. I admitted that we had little understanding of what that meant, but that we had resolved, as best we were able, to do all “by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone”. Christ and His perfect, complete, all-sufficient work was to be our only foundation.

Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined what the result would be. From then on it felt as if we were lurching from crisis to crisis. Our lives were flung into disarray and peppered with conflict, difficulty, opposition and struggle. When we would conclude that we could not possibly cope with one more thing, another calamity would come crashing down on us. In the tumult we lost relationships which we had valued deeply, and in some of the darkest moments we despaired of all hope of ever exiting the storm.

That was then. This is now. Looking back, as often happens with hindsight, the story tells somewhat differently!

Looking back we can see that what felt like out-of-control lurching from crisis to crisis was in fact a loving Heavenly Father leading us from one suppurating sore to the next, graciously enabling us to deal with that which was awry. We felt out of control but He was in full control. Hindsight reveals that many of our relationships were abusive in nature, albeit in varying degrees. Our lives were accusation and condemnation riddled. Sometimes we were the intimidators; at other times we were the intimidated. The Lord had us visit wherever the destructive dynamics of manipulation, control, anxiety and fear were at work. Problems were faced and chains were broken. Amidst the carnage the guilt, condemnation, shame and accusation gave way to freedom, joy and peace. The kingdom of God had come!

Grace was doing what grace does. It disempowers our enemies and dismantles our own enmity. As our identity in Christ takes root and we are fully pursuaded by Word and Spirit that our debt has been paid, and as we become convinced that the tyranny of that unholy trinity of sin, satan and this world’s system has indeed been broken off our lives, so we walk into freedom. At the same time we begin to release others whom we have bound.

It has not been at all easy. As our enslaved lives began to come free from the toxic paralysis of religious effort that the mixture of law and grace brings (it’s also helpful to recognise that snake satan is all-at-once a fanged viper and a suffocating constrictor too), things seemed to get much, much worse before they got any better. This was not the Lord breaking us in order to mould us aright or anything of that ilk (as was suggested by more than a few well-meaning and sadly misguided folk). No! “He was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. Upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). This was not the Lord fixing us but the Lord freeing us! As His life flooded our lives, the pain we experienced was more akin to the thaw of a frostbitten foot (apparently it’s excruciating) or the removal of a cancerous tumour. Bad stuff was leaving our lives and good stuff was flooding into them! The outcome is that today our hearts sing the songs of freedom and our relationships are substantially without obligatory entanglements. In the matters that matter we are indebted to no one, and no one is indebted to us!

Life is still not without it’s challenges. Perhaps it never will be (although I am deeply pursuaded on good authority that our inheritance in Christ is abundant life). Yet, through it all, we can see that we were preserved by an over-arching all-pervasive security (righteousness), peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. This was and is entirely supernatural, completely undeserved, and comes only from Good God.

We’ll not tell our story in any more detail than this. To do so would be to justify our own failings all the while naming and shaming others. This cannot be done as grace insists that we forgo vindication in thought, word and deed. Yet I do unapologetically write this much for the sake of the many saints who find themselves slowly dying in sickness of soul. The way out is the realisation that His (Jesus’) story is our story. Those who have believed have been co-crucified with Christ, and having died with Him, have been raised to new life in Him also. We are saints, not sinners. We have been made righteous; we have been forever put right with God. This is so because Jesus lived the sinless life we never could and died the sinner’s death we deserved. It was His life for ours, so that now His life is ours! Believe it and you’ll walk to liberty. Believe it and you’ll serve no master but Him. Believe it and you’ll open your heart and hands in emancipation of others.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1), and nothing begets freedom like freedom. One whiff and you’re ruined for anything else. Believing in Jesus truly is a new way of living!

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