March 7, 2012

Am I Trusting Jesus?

Living as a Christian is tricky to define. It is, but it is not, a Master/slave relationship. That is only an illustration used to help me understand obedience. It is, but it is not, a Leader/follower relationship. That also is an illustration to help me understand my focus and direction. It is, but it is not, a Model/imitator relationship. That illustration tells me where to look when I don’t understand how to live as He wants me to.
Instead, at least for me, a better understanding is that when Christ saved me, it involved a transaction; He took my sin and replaced it with Himself.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
This means that Christ lives in me. I am the glove and He is the hand. I am the branch and He is the vine. I cannot do anything without Him, anything that is eternal and in obedience to God. Just as He submitted Himself to His Father, I am to submit myself to Him. This involves replacement. I decrease, He increases.
So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” (John 8:28–29)
This means as Galatians 2:20 says. He lives in me and I am to let Him do the living, using my mouth, hands, feet, and whatever else He asks for to express Himself to the people around me. In biblical terms, this means being filled with the Spirit. I cannot merely obey in my own person, mostly because that is impossible. Obedience is letting Christ live through me. This is possible because I was crucified with Him. The old me is gone. The new person is a yielded vessel for an incredible treasure.

Those who live their Christian lives this way have only one authority; the Lord Jesus Christ. We can obey other authorities because He asks us to, but such obedience is not based on the rank or position of those people. It is based on the commands of Jesus. 

For instance, He tells me to obey the governing authorities, which means the speed limit signs go beyond those who pounded them in the ground. They are from Jesus who is in charge, even over the government. When I speed, I violate the will of the One who lives in me.

Sometimes the orders of other authorities conflict with the Word of my Authority. When that happens, Jesus offers the example of His disciples who were ordered to not speak or teach in His name.
But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19–20)
However, most of the time any conflict between myself any other governing authorities involves my opinions and ideals. I have ideas of how things should be done and what freedoms I should have. Yet Jesus sometimes allows those in authority to restrict what I think I should do, or even has them order me to do that which I’d rather not. In those situations, Jesus is still the One who gives me direction.
Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:18–23)
God is sovereign and judges justly. If I am being treated in a way that violates His will for me, then He is able to change that. My place is to trust Him, even if His will includes suffering for me. 

Yet I do not suffer alone. Jesus lives in me. He is able to bear the worst that anyone could ever do. As I yield my life to Him, His life in me bears all my burdens. He gives me His strength to stand, enduring all things for His sake. 

Oh Lord, these days the idea of submission to authority is rapidly dissolving. Many public authorities have failed to live up to our expectations and broken our trust in them. Some of that happens also in Your Body. We, who are commanded to submit to laws that do not make sense, or doctrines that go against our understanding or preferences, are being tested. Have we forgotten that it is You we are supposed to trust? And will our faith allow Christ to live His life in us, even to trusting You when it does not make sense? Or will we go with rationale and our own ideas, only to miss seeing Your powerful and amazing responses to our trust?

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