The lure of convoluted systems of religion would seem ridiculous if they weren’t so subtle, but once you’re down the rabbit hole, so to speak, like Alice in Wonderland, you’re faced with a new reality and you adapt.
I have certainly fallen into the trap of ceasing to follow Jesus and trying instead to merely placate Him. I wanted to make Him happy, but slowly the motivation shifted to proving I could do it, to controlling myself or my environment.
I was going to beat sin.
The more sin bested me, the more I wanted to overcome it. And like the semi-allegorical character in the new book we’re discussing, The Cure: What If God Isn’t Who You Think He Is and Neither Are You, I found myself in the “Room of Good Intentions.” A mask was firmly on my face even though I still performed all the ministry functions I had previously.
As I get closer, I can see there’s writing in bronze lettering across the front: STRIVING HARD TO BE ALL GOD WANTS ME TO BE. Finally. Something for me to do. I strive after success in my career. I strive after keeping fit. Why would it be any less with God? I draw closer and notice a door. Above the doorknob, a small, ornate plaque is bolted to the heavy wooden door. SELF-EFFORT it reads. Of course! God does His part, and I do mine. It’s about time someone said it. —The Cure, by John Lynch, Bruce McNicol, and Bill Thrall.
The man had traveled down a path looking to please God, and he thought he found the way to do it. Self-effort and determination. You just need boundaries and a few rules in place so you’ll be safe from sin and close to God.
It’s all a terrible lie.
Even though I know better, I still fell into the trap of believing God had left me to work everything out on my own. I wish I could say this was years ago, but I’m talking less than a couple months.
I think we’ve believed too strongly that sin separates us from God. For sure, before the Jesus bore a cross and died on behalf of everyone and their sin–it did separate. But what about this verse? Do you believe it?
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. –Romans 8:38-39
Sin can be in your present or even your future. Can it separate you from His love? Paul says here nothing will be able to separate. And I know how scary that sounds and how religious arguments flood in to say, “well, if you believe that then you can keep on sinning and it doesn’t matter.”
But I don’t want to keep on sinning! That’s why I went through the hell of trying to force myself into submission and rules. You may have been there too. Grace is the only thing that makes a difference.
He didn’t ask you to overcome sin to be close to Him. He invites to get close to Him. Period.
Forget sin. Forget failure. Forget striving to please and placate a Savior far removed because you think He’s angry. Receive His love. Nothing can separate you if you choose to allow Him in.
Can you identify? Do you struggle at times with living in grace and buying into good intentions?
Welcome to week 1 of Chapter 1 discussion of The Cure (disclosure) by John Lynch, Bruce McNicol, and Bill Thrall. We are taking a sentence, paragraph, or passage that inspires, encourages, or challenges and writing about it. Once again, we’ll be taking 2 weeks per chapter as these are dense and thought-provoking words. If you have a response on your blog, head over to my friend and co-facilitator, Sarah Salter’s blog for her thoughts and the widget to add your post. Whether you’ve read the chapter or not, please dive into the conversation!