IT IS FINISHED!

tetelestaiIt is finished…the last three words Christ spoke on the cross before He died (John 19:30). But what do they mean?

My understanding…Jesus’ death eliminated our debt. Ended the requirement for sacrifice to atone for our sins.

Why, then, do we insist on continuing the tradition of the sacrifice? You know what I’m talking about…God, I’ll be good if…God, I’ll give up this if…as though these sacrifices atone for our sin. If I just work harder at this…God will be pleased with me.

Folks, IT IS FINISHED! Yes, I’m yelling. I’m yelling at me, and I’m yelling at you. Stop trying to make sure God is pleased with you, and let Him open your eyes. Show others what you have in your Savior. Tell others about Him and the wonderful thing HE did.

I used to picture Christ on the cross, bloody and beaten, and feel horrified…guilty…shameful. Rightfully so, but over the last couple years, as I have realized more and more that what He did was a gift, I no longer feel those things. I feel gratitude. Sometimes I weep…sometimes I bow my head and humbly smile and whisper a prayer of thanks.

Today I got a text from one of my best friends. Several years ago, she patiently waited, witnessing to me through her actions and living, and prayers for me, until I recommitted my life to Christ. We have rejoiced so much over the last couple years…but her text today absolutely blew me away…

A very powerful statement in a message that I just listened to yesterday. And the power was just in three words that I have known for so many years of my life and just never really applied it to my life in the way that I just heard it in this message. Jesus’ last words when hanging on that cross were “it is finished”. His last words were not “do better”, “make me proud”, etc. With His words, He meant “I came to do for you what you couldn’t.” Yet we still think that we aren’t good enough for His salvation, or we don’t do enough to earn His love. We can’t forgive ourselves for certain things when He has already paid that price. We need to repent, accept, and continue to grow in Christ.

This is someone who has been a Christian for years. Somehow, our churches would have us to believe that “it’s on us”. It ain’t! IT IS FINISHED!

 

recovering legalist

Dear God, it’s still happening. What the hell?Recovering Legalist

The legacy of performance-based legalistic Christianity is that it seems as though it never truly leaves me. I described myself recently as a “desperately recovering legalist”. Sometimes, it rears its ugly head when I’m focused on myself, but most often it happens when I am interacting with or thinking about the lives and situations of others.

First off, an apology. To every single human being that I’ve ever interacted with…I’m sorry. I’m sorry for somehow thinking that I had the right to decide where your relationship with God stood. I’m sorry for thinking your denomination wasn’t “right”. I’m sorry for thinking that I had to “share” my faith with you in such a way that would probably make you think “psycho”. I’m sorry to those who had a habit or engaged in a behavior that was prohibited by the “rules”, which therefore meant you were destined for hell.

Good news…gospel…truth. While I’m not a life-long scripture hound, I’ve been making up for lost time in the last two years. Being involved with two men’s support groups, a small-group Bible study, and a Sunday school class where the themes seem to be supernaturally woven together has really opened my eyes. Nowhere do I see “beat your brother over the head with this Bible when he swears” or “pull the cigarette out of your friend’s mouth and tell them it’s a sin”. Nothing says to stand outside a theatre or rock concert and tell people going in they’re headed for hell for attending. None of this. It’s all made up. Yet, I still think that I have to do this…or worse yet, that it’s OK to do this. Just today, I was on the phone with a friend and he said a cuss word. The internal legalist gasped and told me to admonish him.

Jesus Christ. Savior, friend…wow. It really is very basic. Trust, and become like a child. Grow, but always remain like a child. Oh, no…I can’t…what about following the list of rules??? Plain and simple…forgive as you have been forgiven. Love as you have been loved. Walk alongside as you’ve been guided.

I look around me. I’m surrounded by people. But I see so much more than I saw before. I see God’s precious creations. His children whom He loves. Stories to listen to. Tears to share. That’s all. Share what He’s done for me with them…tell them He can do it for them too. Love them, and let them love me!

Please forgive me. God will finish what He started. But He’s not finished yet. Please pray for me. Pray that when Dana Carvey’s “Church Lady” pops into my head, declaring “well, isn’t that special?” after I hear about someone’s sin, I’ll remember that I have not walked in that person’s shoes, but maybe I need to.

receiving grace

Lake Raystown MistAmazing grace, how sweet the sound

that saved a wretch like me

I once was lost but now am found

Twas blind but now I see.

If you are like me, you know at least one verse of this song by heart. I’m certain that I heard the song in my childhood, and even more certain that I would have heard it within the first month of attending church at age 12.

Hearing it is one thing…understanding is another. Accepting Jesus Christ as my savior was something I did at 12 due to fright. The church we attended was big on scaring people into heaven. While I’m certainly glad that He has been with me all these years, the way I came about my faith left a lot to be desired.

Grace became the subject of a song or something that was recited before a meal…but that’s about it.

Fast forward 32 years. After a life of trying so hard to be perfect, because after all, that’s what Christians do, I was on the verge of claiming there was no God. And thank God, He wouldn’t have it. He sent some amazing servants into my path. Things happened. The Holy Spirit moved in my life. I began attending church again.

But the most amazing thing happened. I learned that grace was something different than what I thought it was. Grace was God’s way of letting me know that in spite of how hard I tried, I could never get there on my own. I needed Jesus. A relationship with him. I needed to learn that no matter what I carried with me, His grace was there to get me through it. There is no perfection on earth, regardless of what I thought.

The last two years have been interesting…running, hiding, surrendering, accepting, learning. I could go on and on. God’s grace has truly been bestowed on me in more ways than I ever thought possible. I had wanted to write for a long time, and so out of my brokenness, RECEIVING GRACE was born, and now is being re-born as grace.on.cue.

Bibliography
Newton, John. “Amazing Grace.” 1779.