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May 25, 2020 - Chris Barney
I had this epiphany the other day. I realized that for several years I have been trying to function outside of God’s grace. I seem to have taken on this mindset that Jesus died for my sin and that’s all I need Him for.
I’ve begun to think things like:
- I don’t need God to be a good husband.
- I don’t need God to be a good father.
- If things need done, I have to do them myself.
- I don’t need God to be a good Christian.
Now don’t get me wrong; these haven’t been active thoughts in my head, but somewhere inside me I’ve been believing these things. So I start acting out of my own power and my own strength. I’ve been striving to be what God wants me to be, but I’ve been doing it apart from God. I think it’s taken me a while to notice these things because I’m pretty good at functioning by myself.
Recently I re-watched the movie Courageous (if you haven’t seen it I’ll try not to spoil it for you…). In the movie, the main character starts researching what the Bible has to say about being a father and a husband. Eventually he makes a pledge with several of the men in his life to commit to the things scripture says (I’m sure you can find this on the internet if you’re interested). After I watched the movie I was talking to someone about it and said I remembered thinking, when they were reading the pledge, “I wonder how I’m doing with those things.”
Now, not being a naturally introspective person, the thought had progressed no further. Luckily the person I was talking to asked the obvious follow-up question my own brain had refused to ask: “How do you think you’re doing?”
So I said, “well I think I do most of those things, or at least I try to.”
That is when the aforementioned epiphany hit me. I have been trying to do these things, me, apart from God, independently aspiring to something I can never achieve. I felt like Jesus was sitting in the room with me waiting for the thought to hit me. No guilt. No shame. Just waiting for me to come to the realization that I had been trying to be righteous apart from Him.
The truth is that I need God in the middle of everything in my life. When it’s been a long day and I don’t feel like talking to my wife, I need Him. When I’m losing my patience with the kids for the 93rd time in the past hour, I need Him. When I’m frustrated at work cause I can’t solve the stupid problem I’ve been fighting with for the past three days, I need Him. When someone in cell group shares a deep longing that has gone unmet and I don’t know what to say, I need Him.
Not only do I need Him in the middle of these situations, I need Him after I fail. I need to turn to Him and ask for His grace and forgiveness. I need Him sitting across the room from me inviting me back into His arms. Without shame and without guilt.
I don’t know what it looks like in every situation to function as a part of Christ’s body, nor do I think I will suddenly cease beating myself up. I do think that in order to start moving past these issues I need to start abiding in Christ better. John 15 says (maybe you should go read it. Go ahead, I’ll wait…) that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. It also says that apart from Him we can do nothing. Any fruit we hope to bear cannot be borne unless we are abiding in Him.
Is there an area of life where you are trying to bear fruit apart from Christ?