Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Scary Gospel

I think sometimes we can forget just how scary and terrifying the Gospel is to our sinful flesh. The Gospel, in its full, unadulterated sweetness tells me that everything is about Jesus and what He has done for me - that I simply receive His goodness. What's scary about that? It leaves absolutely no room for me to exercise any control or power.

Many things that we fear in this life have to deal with losing control, with not being in charge. I think this is part of what makes surgery so frightening - not just the cause, but what happens - you lay down, you are helpless, you are put to sleep - you are totally passive. The days of eating right and having a healthy regime and your control are gone. Or think about being afraid of the dark - you can't see, you can't control. Or the nightmare - you can't control. Or politics -- history is full of people making stupid decisions based on the fear of losing control.

Our old sinful flesh wants control. Period. This even comes into life in the Church. People want to control what happens, how money is spent (we are all familiar with the bribe that hides under the guise of an offering or gift -- if you do X I'll give $Y -- if not, forget it). We see this in the struggles between people - in the congregation, between spouses (Happy Anniversary, dear!), parents and children, neighbors. It so often runs back to control - we want to have control.

And the Gospel tells us we aren't in control. Now, this is a good thing - because, let's face it, when we try to control things, we generally end up doing a pretty stupid job of it. This is a good thing, for God is much better at being in charge than we are. But watch yourself for this - is your old sinful nature going to let you try to water down the Gospel a little bit by asserting your own control in there? Here are some examples:

1. If I change X, then we will get more people (see, that's me being in control).
2. If I pray the right prayer, then God will bless me (see, that's me being in control)
3. You have to ask Jesus into your heart (see, that's me being in control)
4. Anything dealing with works (see, that's me being in control)

Your flesh is at war with you, O Christian! It will try to convince you that you should try to take control, that you should be a tyrant for Jesus (really, a tyrant for self, but it will tell you you're doing it for Jesus). Be wary, smack down your flesh, and say to it, "No, Christ Jesus is my good and gracious Master - and He is the One who is in control!"

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