Beautiful! – And Our Heart’s Response

Darwin Falls, Death Valley National Park, California
Darwin Falls, Death Valley National Park, California

If you follow current Christian trends, you’ve probably run across the idea that God sees you through the blood of Christ as beautiful, righteous, holy, already approved, and so many more positive attributes.  Every one of these claims has a Biblical proof text to back it up.  The kernel of this teaching is that because you’re already loved by God, you 1) don’t have to work to gain His approval (1 Thessalonians 2:4, etc.), and 2) can live from that place of acceptance and righteousness (John 15:3): instead of constantly battling the sin nature, you can live in the power of the Spirit to advance the Kingdom of God.

Wildflowers along the Medicine Bow Peak Loop, Wyoming
Wildflowers along the Medicine Bow Peak Loop, Wyoming

The teaching bears merit: It’s very Biblically based and I’ve watched as it’s set hundreds – probably thousands – of people free from guilt, shame, condemnation and a lot of other things that Jesus paid for on the cross.  Defeated Christians suddenly become active, passionate people preaching the gospel when they realize that they can live from a place of hope instead of a place of barely getting by when it comes to their faith.

Curving walkway over a swampy part of the trail to Ibantik Lake, Uinta Mountains, Utah
Curving walkway over a swampy part of the trail to Ibantik Lake, Uinta Mountains, Utah

However, it’s also raised concerns.  Millennials (and plenty of other age demographics!) already have a tendency toward loving themselves a bit too much, and can be very self-focused.  In some ways, we can blame the self-confidence movement in the 1990s for this: “You’re amazing.  You’re wonderful.  Don’t listen to anyone else.  You’re fantastic, just the way you are right now” we were told.  It was supposed to raise self-confidence, but sadly it mostly just made people introspective.  And when you have introspection without the reality of Christ’s work in your life, you tend to find an awful lot of darkness and disappointments – which drives you to focus on yourself even more.

Exploring Sidewinder Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California
Exploring Sidewinder Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Some people look at the message of “you are the righteousness of God in Christ” as damaging to these already self-focused people.  If you’re already heady about yourself, won’t focusing on the fact that we’re God’s masterpieces (Ephesians 2:10), specifically chosen by God (1 Peter 2:9), heirs of Christ (Romans 8:16), accepted as we are (Romans 15:7). and uniquely gifted (1 Peter 4:10) just make you even more self-centered and self-promoting?

Small waterfall in Barnes Gully, New York
Small waterfall in Barnes Gully, New York

It’s true that Paul tells us to “work out our salvation,” to “live a holy life,” and to not “think of ourselves more highly than we ought” (Philippians 2:12, Ephesians 4:1, and Romans 12:3).  But what if it’s also true that you already are the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), entrusted with the most precious gift ever given (1 Thessalonians 2:4), and chosen as ambassadors of God, Himself (2 Corinthians 5:20)?

Flooded Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, California
Flooded Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, California

You see, the message, itself, isn’t the issue.  The message is true.  It’s our heart’s response to the message that can get us in trouble.  If learning that you are loved, individually, by God goes to your head, it’s an improper heart response to the great love of our Father (see Matthew 10:31).  If knowing that you’re righteous makes you think you can do anything you want to in terms of sin, then you’ve missed the point entirely.

Valley views from Table Mountain, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington
Valley views from Table Mountain, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington

Knowing who we are in Christ – that we are already approved and accepted (Ephesians 1:6), deeply loved (Ephesians 3:17-18), and adopted as sons and daughters into God’s family (Ephesians 1:5-6), and so much more – requires from us a heart response of love and humility.  It frees us to focus on allowing God to work through us instead of focusing on our sin.  It allows us to love God more deeply because He is personally interested in our lives.  It raises us above the brokenness of sin and into the heavenly places where we are seated with Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6).

Lupine near Elk Meadow, Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon
Lupine near Elk Meadow, Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon

We enter into the fullness of Christ through believing the truth of who He is, and also the truth of how we can interact with Him.  We submit ourselves to Him so that our response to this truth doesn’t become carnal pride, but instead becomes our life, our breath, the place from which we can love God and love others – because we are no longer ashamed of everything we are not in God.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *