Monday, February 8, 2010

How to Avoid Spiritual Arbitration

I'm a big baseball fan. It's really the only sport that I love following. But winter is the off-season for baseball. Which means there's not much baseball news worth reading about these days. There's some, but not much.

The off-season baseball news revolves around contract signings. Those players who are free agents are renegotiating their contracts, and trying to get more money. Contract talks are all about determining how much a player is worth. And they determine a players worth by looking over his statistics from the past few years. What is his batting average? How many hits did he get? How many errors did he commit? By looking carefully at how a player has performed, they determine what that player is worth.

Sometimes we act as though we believe that God treats us the same way, determining our worth based on our performance. "I just know its going to be a bad day, because I didn't have a quiet time this morning." "The reason I didn't have success is because I didn't pray hard enough." "My co-worker doesn't deserve my kindness because they have no respect for ______."

But in God's eyes our performance does not determine our worth. He does not love us more when we do good (how could he? the Bible says our best works are like filthy rags!). And he does not love us less when we do bad.
For he himself is our peace - Ephesians 2:14

God is at peace with us. We are at peace with him. Not because of our performance, but through Christ. Because Christ paid the penalty of our sins on the cross, he made peace. God welcomes us just like he welcomes Christ. My worth is determined by Christ's performance.

When we live based on our performance there is no peace. We are all judge and no friend. We are all negotiation and no acceptance. All demand and no grace.

But when we live out of grace, accepting the free gift of peace based on Christ's bloody cross, we have peace with God, and peace with one another. We stop judging others. We start loving. We stop standing aloof from God, and begin to draw nigh.

God is not up in heaven scouring our stats to determine how to act towards us. He loves us based on the work of Christ alone, with no eye towards our miserable stats. And one effect of the gospel is that we no longer scour other's stats to determine how to treat them. As one of my elder's used to say, "the ground is level at the foot of the cross."

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