Yesterday, in my sermon, I brought up this text.
13 And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,
14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.
16 Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day–
17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.
You can listen to the sermon for the main thrust of this text, but the basic idea is that when Christ died on the cross, he removed the curse that was on me. He drank the cup of the wrath of God to the fullest, so that now I am clean, innocent, pure, and an adopted firstborn son of God. This is who you are, whether you are rich or poor, male or female, bond or free. You are the heir of all things in Christ.
The devil thrives on accusation. You aren’t good enough, pretty enough, masculine enough, strong enough.
You would be acceptable to people and worthy of their affection if only you had one more thing….
And so many of us have spent our lifetime trying to gain the approval of men by trying to add just one more thing. Maybe if I learned to like sports. Maybe if I hung out more at men’s clubs. Maybe if I wore the right kind of clothes.
And as we get older, we add to that list of things to do to add just one more thing. It is a powerful motivator. We fear, more than anything, to be rejected by our peers.
If I don’t do ashes, people will shame me. If I DO ashes people will shame me. If I don’t wear the right clothes to church, people will shame me. What are the right clothes? Should I wear a suit? A tie?
Is this dress plain enough? Too plain? Should I wear a hat? What if I accidently call the fellowship meal a “potluck” and the world stops spinning and everyone stares at me?
What if I am caught talking to the wrong sort of person?
If you have been to church, you know what I am talking about. It is the devil’s greatest weapon. You aren’t good enough. You need something else to yourself acceptable.
But you won’t ever find that “just one more thing” because it doesn’t exist. It is just designed by Satan to keep you in bondage.
If you are in Christ, though – every sin and every shame and every failure has already been nailed to his cross and has been put to death in the sight of God. It is finished.
So not only has Satan’s weapon been taken away, but YOU have been set free.
So what does that mean?
Here is what struck me when I was thinking through this passage.
From now on, I will continue to fight against sin. But I will try everything in my power to quit living in fear of men. I have too much to do to spend a moment doing a poll with imaginary people in my head to determine what I should wear, what I should listen to, what I should read, what I should like.
Yes, I will strive to love my neighbor, and be kind to all that God brings in my path, but I will do so out of thankfulness to the One who died for me, not out of the fear of the opinions of men. And that makes all the difference.
The fact is, as my pa would have said, you would quit thinking about what people thought about you if you realized how little they did.
If you are looking to the human race for your acceptance, you’ve got a long ways to go. Most everyone in the human race is busy with their own issues to deal with yours as well.
So live for the one who died for you. Serve God without terror of rejection because you are already accepted in the beloved. You are actually complete in Christ right now, and there is nothing left to add. Flee from anyone who says, “but there is just one more thing….”
It is finished. So don’t live in the sight of men anymore. Honor God, serve the Lord, be kind to all, do good as the Lord has done good to you.
But remember that the world rejected Christ and they will reject you. So for the rest, dance to your own tune.
Love God, and do as you will – as Augustine said.
Wear that shirt if you like it. Listen to the music that you like to listen to. Celebrate Christmas or Ash Wednesday however you want to. Do Easter. Don’t do Easter. Hunt eggs with the kids. Don’t hunt eggs with the kids. Wear a suit to church. Don’t wear a suit to church.
Wear that hat; don’t wear that hat. Call it a potluck or a fellowship dinner.
Just do it for the glory of God, and not in the sight of men. Be without guile and dissimilation. If you are at dinner with friends, if you want a beer, order one. If you don’t and just want water, order one. If you want an appletini with an extra umbrella then order that. Quit letting people shame you by what you want to drink, for crying out loud. give thanks to God and all things are pure.
Love God, and love your neighbor. Be kind to all. But don’t let the opinions of men put you into bondage for a moment.
Human beings will accept you or reject you. Jesus didn’t put too much stock in it, for he knew what was in the heart of man (John 2:24).
Love God, and do what pleases you, for you are complete in Christ.
(For those who are always nervous that someone might get away with sin if we are too antinomian, if you truly love God, you will keep his commandments. That isn’t what I’m talking about. Now tend to your own heart, and leave God’s people in peace).
And also, I am thinking of taking up knitting. It seems to me that it would relax me greatly and help me to be patient with others in long meetings.