abounding grace.

Yesterday evening, I had small group.  I’m not sure if I’ve written about my small group before, but I have been so incredibly blessed by them.  I love having a group of people and place to be myself, to study the Bible, to share, listen and be heard, and loved.  I’m so thankful for them, and I could pretty much brag about how great they are forever.  But I won’t bore you.

I led yesterday, which I’m not the best at leading.  But when I lead I actually end up having to read the passage before we meet, and I actually studied it, something I probably should do anyways… While I was preparing I was struck so deeply by the clarity of the gospel I read in Hebrews 10.  The freedom I felt while reading and preparing gave me the trust and the assurance that no matter what I did, God has forgotten about it.  All of the sins I’ve committed and will commit God has already forgotten about.

I went to a Christian high school, and I loved my time there.  I loved, and still love, the people I met there; I grew and learned so much that I hadn’t learned before.  I was never a consistent church goer, so going to school in a Christian environment was a whole new experience and it was wonderful.  But looking back on my time, and my growing up, I’m realizing the legalism I put myself under.  I had to be a certain way, look a certain way, act a certain way, in order to be considered “Christian”.  I needed to read my Bible everyday, and talk about Jesus, think about the philosophical ideas about God and understand why I believed what I believed.

After reading Hebrews 10 and looking back at my life these past 5 years I’ve been at Wheaton College, I’ve realized how awful of a “Christian” I actually am.  Wheaton’s Community Covenant, which we sign every year, is basically calling us to live a “Christian” life, and that “Christian” life must look a certain way.  And I’m not saying it’s wrong and that I don’t agree with it at all.  I do.  I agree with the covenant that I signed.  Actually, I don’t think I signed it this year… weird.  Anyways, I agree with the covenant, but just because we abide by certain rules, act a certain way, and live a certain life, doesn’t mean that we are more “Christian”.  It doesn’t mean that we are less sinful.  And that’s where I think the problem comes.

Reading Hebrews 10, one of the verses that struck me was verse 4: “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”  How many things do we do as Christians, make us feel like we are less sinful?  For example, if we don’t smoke, drink, or “immodest[ly], sinfully erotic[ally] or harmfully violent[ly]” dance, we’re all of a sudden better than those people who do those things because we’ve abstained from them.  Yes, we as the Body of Christ are being sanctified or set apart for God, but we are not sanctified because of our “abstinence from sin”.

As Christians, we sometimes get big heads because Christ has taken over our hearts and given us new life.  When really, the only reason he’s in our hearts is because of his great, abounding mercy and grace.  There was nothing we could’ve done to deserve it, and there is nothing, absolutely NOTHING that we can do that will make us deserve his grace.  God’s grace for us is just that, grace, and we as humans have this problem where we think we can do things to make us better than other people.  For example, if I read my Bible everyday for 3 hours, or pray for 6 hours everyday, I’m all of a sudden a better, more holy person because of my actions.  But NOTHING we do can take away sins.  Nothing we did will ever make us less sinful.  Only Christ has taken away our sins.  And only through his grace on us are we made sinless in the eyes of God.

Hebrews later goes on to say the Lord says “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more”, this is only through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that this is possible.  And Christ’s faithfulness to God’s will on the cross is the only thing that can take away sins.  Abounding grace fills our hearts and takes hold of our life.  Nothing we do, say, ask, or desire will change that.

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