Recently I received a most unusual phone call. My friend on the line was laughing hysterically and had been laughing non-stop for the last hour. Between her belly laughs, she was able to tell me how the Lord had suddenly dropped this gift of joy on her after a discouraging word given to her by another believer.
The week prior to this, she and I had spent a day together while attending a special event at another church. That afternoon over lunch, I attempted to share with both my friends sitting with me at the restaurant booth about the magnificent gift of grace we all had been given through our new lives in Jesus. All of us had heard this before, but unfortunately, much of our joy had been robbed throughout the years as we walked in a mixture of law and grace taught to us by well-meaning believers.
Only in the last several months had my husband and I finally received some clear understanding on what it means to be free from the old “rules and regulations” of our faith so we could fully embrace the transforming gift of God’s lavish grace and peace upon our lives. Once our performance mentality is gone, everything about us changes as well. We just need to receive God’s goodness and walk in His joy!
As I explained these things to my friends, they were challenged and had a hard time really comprehending what it was like to be free from the “rules of religion” and walk only in the joy of our salvation. Pastor Scott Schang, author of the book, “The Rhema Code” describes it in this way.
“What is it that causes people to question their salvation wondering if they are loved and if they measure up or not? What is it that causes that initial passion at conversion to fade away and reduce them to go through the motions of Christianity, but without fire and conviction? Is the answer more prayer, better church attendance, more Bible reading, more sacrifice, less sin? How about more fasting or greater discipline? Surely there must be something missing!”
“Maybe the prevailing thought of needing to become better instead of living from ‘already being better’ is thrusting people into an unattainable ‘pursuit mode’ that sounds right but really is counterproductive and in fact, an error in thinking, leaving many stuck in a confusing attempt at ‘serving Jesus’.” (The Rhema Code, page 72)
Many of us get stuck in this idea that we need to earn the favor of God by our performance here on earth, but the truth of the matter is we already have His favor! By us thinking we need to somehow impress God (or others) by our behavior or actions, we are in effect saying that the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins was not enough to make us worthy of God’s grace. We think we must add to what Jesus has done.
It is a gift we only need to receive and then fully believe as we follow the paths He lays out before us. His goodness and continual mercies follow us everywhere we go! The only hindrance to this is when we really don’t believe Him and His promises.
This is what my friend was struggling with when she heard the gentle voice of the Lord asking her why she was so stressed out over the discouraging word she had received? He explained that He had chosen to confound the wise and give His truths to babes. At that moment, the joy of the Lord washed over my dear sister and she suddenly understood that she was, in fact, the object of the Lord’s lavish grace. No more guilt and condemnation! She was free!
Between her laughter, she continued to tell me, “I got it! I got it!”
And she did!