Be do be, do be…do, be do be do….
Sorry. Couldn’t resist. This post has to be read to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s, “Strangers in the Night”….But there is a point to it all.
Of late, I must admit I have been more messy than playful! Be it parenting, finances, health or the dog, I frustrated myself trying to understand, control and labour my way through particular circumstances. I am happy to report, however, Father gently informed me I was out of sync. Way out. No condemnation, no shame. Just a gentle reminder and a smile to warm the heart.
Father’s wonderful thoughts led me to ponder two covenants: one old, one new. You may know of them.
The Old Covenant is clearly described in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians as being “of the letter” which “kills”, whereas the New, he states, is of the Spirit, who gives life! The Law was holy, right and just, and had a glory of its own, but its purpose was never to make us Holy, Righteous or Just; it can’t (Rom. 7:12; 8:3). It was to reveal our independent, sinful existence and our dying in it. Paul called it the “ministry of death” and “condemnation” (2 Cor. 3:5-18).
Quite simply, the Old exposes the futility of our believing and pursuing a righteousness and justification before God, through performance, works and our own doing. Like gazing into a mirror it exposed our sinful state. In fact, the Law empowered it! Make no mistake, if you are still focused on doing everything in you own strength, by living apart from His Grace, you will, paradoxically, reproduce that which you are trying to kill off. The Law would reveal our own impudence and impotence and, ultimately, our need for a saviour.
That’s where I found myself…again…aghhhh. Messy mind!
The New Covenant, however, has a Glory which supremely surpasses that of the Old.
“For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.” (2 Cor. 3:9)
Thank you, Jesus, for the new law of the Spirit of Life! The New Covenant ushered in stunning, prodigious Grace. It’s no longer about our obedience, our faith, our performance. We were crucified with Him, remember? Jesus did not come to change us or make us better performers and upholders of the Law. He came to kill off Sin and our old nature, and to give us new life. A new life in Him. His life. His relationship with Father and Holy Spirit.
And so, another mirror is presented to us.
“But we all, with unveiled faces, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2Cor. 3:18)
How do you read this? This has been touted as another call to works, to earn merit badges as we mature and are subsequently promoted from one degree of glory to another. And so on… Some may get there; others may not. Hmm? If we take Paul’s words in their proper context, rest assured, he is not speaking of a process to salvation or righteousness which we (may) earn or (may) eventually achieve after years of religious piety, self-sacrifice and works. He is speaking, however, of we in Christ having exchanged one former glory – the Law – for another superior and everlasting glory – the abundance of Grace and the gift of Righteousness in Christ Jesus!
Be or do. It’s up to you (hey, that rythmes!) We can live as if we are still under the ministry of death and condemnation (that’s attractive!) or from the place of intimacy in the wonderful romance and love of the Trinity, seated with, and in Christ. In my trying to manipulate all my circumstances to my advantage and control everything and everyone accordingly, I had allowed myself to live as an orphan in my Father’s house! I am still learning to walk…
The old mirror reveals a sinful state and a our own death sentence as we endeavoured in vain to keep ordinances written in stone, living our own separate existence. The new mirror of Jesus Christ, the living word of God, reveals our new life in Him: that we are already dead to Sin. Our old nature, that old, independent existence? Crucified and buried! In Christ, we see as in a mirror the Glory of God. Our transformation is our awakening to this truth.
You must first know who you are before you can manifest who you are! We have had it backward for so long. Do this and then you will be….The fruit we so eagerly desire to see can only develop out of an abiding rest in Him and His finished work. Grace is Life.
What do you see in a mirror? We see ourselves! In Christ all is revealed and all is held together. Where we once strived to achieve a righteousness, we now can rest in the full knowledge and assurance that we are the Righteousness of God in Christ. And we did natin’ to get there!
Do or Be? Strive or rest? Live under condemnation or in Grace? Apart from Christ (as if you could live outside of He who is life!) or in Christ? Veiled or unveiled? A prisoner of Sin or of Righteousness? Dead works or everlasting fruit? Self-obsessed or adoring Jesus? Orphan or son?
Or, to keep the aul Sinatra theme going…do it my way or rest in the Truth that it is already done!
So, these past few weeks I have been singing aul Frankie boy’s (unfortunate) anthem, as I endeavoured to do it my way, by trying to work out how my finances could possible stretch. How I could work harder and longer to at least make the business a little bit more lucrative. How to hold my patience with the dog, and how to live in a house with doors that just don’t seem to close automatically after someone (not mentioning any names) walks through them! It’s not the North Pole…but close!
I say all this to mention this one, simple thing to you…
Rest. Be. It’s done. Ok, that was four…
As He is. Ger