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Tidbits and Mindbytes

Small bits of words crammed together to form thoughts, with a taste of opinion.

Month

April 2012

Where is your ♥?

 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rustt destroy and where thieves break in and steal,but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Something to Think about…

Jesus doesn’t love us because we are beautiful; we become beautiful through Jesus’s sacrificial love. He is the ultimate spouse to us, his “bride,” in the gospel.The solution to stinginess is a reorientation to the generosity of Christ in the gospel, where he poured out his wealth for you. You don’t have to worry about money, for the cross proves God’s care for you and gives you all the security you need. Jesus’s love and salvation confers on you a remarkable status—one that money cannot give you. The solution to a bad marriage is a reorientation to the radical spousal love of Christ in the gospel. “Thou shalt not commit adultery”makes sense in the context of the spousal love of Jesus, especially in the cross, where he was completely faithful to you. Only when you know the spousal love of Christ will you have real fortitude against lust. His love is fulfilling—which keeps you from looking to sexuality to give you what only Jesus can give.
What is the point? What makes you faithful or generous is not just a redoubled effort to follow moral rules. Rather, all change comes from deepening your understanding of the salvation of Christ and living out of the changes that understanding creates in your heart. Faith in the gospel restructures our motivations, our self-understanding, our identity, and our view of the world. Behavioral compliance to rules without heart-change will be superficial and fleeting. The gospel is therefore not just the ABCs of the Christian life, but the A to Z of the Christian life. Our problems arise largely because we don’t continually return to thegospel to work it in and live it out. That is why Martin Luther wrote, “The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine. . . . Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.”14 “Wait,” I have heard people object. “You mean that in order to grow in Christ, you keep telling yourself how graciously loved and accepted you are? That doesn’t seem to be the best way to make progress. Maybe the motivation of religion was negative, but atleast it was effective! You knew you had to obey God because if you didn’t, he wouldn’t answer your prayers or take you to heaven. But if you remove this fear and talk so much about free grace and unmerited acceptance—what incentive will you have to live a good life? It seems like this gospel way of living won’t produce people who are as faithful and diligent to obey God’s will without question.” But if, when you have lost all fear of punishment you also have lost incentive to live an obedient life, then what was yourin the first place? It could only have been fear. What other incentive is there? Awed, grateful love.Some years ago I met a woman who began coming to Redeemer, the church where I am a minister. She said that she had gone to a church growing up and she had always heard that God accepts us only if we are sufficiently good and ethical. She had never heard the message she was now hearing, that we can be accepted by God by sheer grace through the work of Christ regardless of anything we door have done. She said, “That is a scary idea! Oh, it’s good scary, but still scary.” I was intrigued. I asked her what was so scary about unmerited free grace? She replied something like this: “If I was saved by my good works—then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be like a taxpayer with rights. I would have done my duty and now I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if it is really true that I am a sinner saved by sheer grace—at God’s infinite cost—then there’snothing he cannot ask of me.” She could see immediately that the wonderful-beyond-belief teaching of salvation by sheer grace had two edges to it. On the one hand it cut away slavish fear. God loves us freely, despite our flaws and failures. Yet she also knew that if Jesus really had done this for her—she was not her own. She was bought with a price.

Keller, Timothy (2008-09-25). The Prodigal God . Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

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