She said it with a slight sadness in her voice yet behind it was also feeling of joy and hope. “I only became a Christian three years ago,” she spoke in a confession-like tone. We all sat back in confusion. This woman, this seemingly long-faithful daughter of Christ, who grew up in church and even worked for years at a church, was revealing something so personal and at odds with her religious past.
“But you accepted Christ as your savior a long time ago,” I maintained. “Yes, but it wasn’t until three years ago that I began to understand what it meant and what the life He wants for me looks like,” she declared.
I call that her “Claritin Clear” moment. You might have seen those commercials for the allergy medicine where a person miserable with allergies sees life through a foggy, sneezy lens. And upon taking the medicine, the foggy lens is peeled away, revealing a clear view look at life. Unfortunately for Christians, it’s not as easy as taking a pill to finally get to this moment. But when you do, you’ll find yourself feeling like you’ve entered another realm, peering back through the foggy looking glass which shows chaos, hatred, unforgiveness, immorality and more blackness. The brokenness that God never intended for our lives. The danger could be to regret how long it took you to get to the other, clearer side. But that would only mean you still have one foot left to drag over. Because, my friend, the life Jesus wants for us looks nothing like regret. Nothing like chaos, only joy and peace and forgiveness. It looks like freedom
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.John 8:36
I was listening to the amazingly smart pastors over at The White Horse Inn podcast the other day and as usual they nailed this concept. In their discussion about The Law and our Christian understanding of it, they pointed listeners to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5). Starting at verse 21 Jesus seems to make being a “good Christian” an even more difficult task than just following the basic 10 Commandments:
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.
Yikes! Here I was thinking, “well, I haven’t murdered anyone to date and I’m good about going to church and praying so I must be doing swell.” Yet, Jesus ups the ante. Because I don’t know about you but I was pretty angry with someone just last night! Pastor Bob Hiller goes on to reveal in the podcast that Jesus doesn‘t want to just change our behavior but our heart, thereby freeing us. And heart-change can only happen in partnership with Him and the Holy Spirit. If you have ever tried not getting angry at someone who has clearly done you wrong, and instead with true grace and forgiveness turned your cheek, you know how difficult it can be.
A few months ago, I realized my consistent prayers of trying to fix a bad habit – cursing – were focused on the entirely wrong problem. Cursing was simply a product of a wrong heart, an angry heart, a prideful heart. When I had that “Claritin Clear” moment my prayers changed to reflect the great blessings Christ left with us when sent someone in His place to be with us, the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17). This Spirit of Truth, the Advocate, our Teacher, shows us the true life God wants for us while we walk on this earth. It’s a life of love, a life of peace and mercy, of freedom, a life in full bloom. It’s a journey of sanctification so that our behavior can reveal the good work He is doing in us.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23
When I took a step toward Christ saying, “I don’t want to live in anxiety, anger and chaos” the Spirit showed me the other side of that looking glass. It’s a place I want to live the rest of my days. How about you? Please join me on this 9-week journey as we look at A Christian Life in Full Bloom starting May 1. Be sure to follow the blog to receive your weekly Full Bloom post!