May 6, 2011

Do You Get It?

Yesterday morning I was at a Bible study with some women. The topic of conversation turned to salvation: What is is? What does it mean? And how do you receive it?
The leader presented the salvation message as it appears in the Bible. Even though many of the women have been coming to this study for a year or more, some of them still have trouble letting go of the idea that "good" people go to heaven and "bad" people don't. They don't see themselves and their sin as "not that bad" in comparison with others. Certainly not in comparison to a murderer's at any rate.

"I don't get it," one woman confessed.

Having been in Haiti and the prison, I've seen stark contrasts to my own life. My conclusion is that living a safe, comfortable, suburban lifestyle might be desirable, but it is one of the greatest stumbling blocks to receiving the gospel message of Jesus. Our perceived goodness gets in the way of our "getting it."

One thing that has removed the blinders from my eyes and truly shown me the meaning of grace has been worshipping with the inmates in the prison. These guys get it. They're "bad" guys and they know it. They know they've messed up and they need help fixing their lives. They know they need forgiveness. And this knowledge allows them to passionately embrace God's gift of salvation through Jesus.

In a way I think they have it easier because their sin and brokenness is more visible. There's no escaping it. It's easier to see their need for grace.

I've heard many Christians claim they are "better" than people in prison. Well, I have met ex-convicts who burn with the passion of Jesus and whose lives are totally committed to serving Him. I met a murderer who I wanted to stand closer to just so some of the grace that poured through him would spill on to me. I have seen how the transforming power of the Holy Spirit can turn around an addict who society discarded into into a life of beauty.

The hard truth is that we are all wretched:
"There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God." (Romans 3:11)
"All the right things we have done are like filthy pieces of cloth." (Isaiah 64:6-7)

There is no one holy, not one.
Our sin is every bit as offensive to God as a criminal's. It was my sin that put Jesus on the cross. And yours. And the gang member's. And the murderer's. It's a hard pill to swallow.

But, accepting this sober truth doesn't bring condemnation, it brings freedom. Freedom to see ourselves with new eyes. Freedom to accept the gift of grace that Jesus offers. Freedom to allow the Spirit of God to work in our life. "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:17)

Are you good?

Or do you get it?


Carmen said...

This is so good, Kelli. In our society many cover up the whole 'sin thing' and we're told, 'just accept Jesus and you'll be saved.' No mention of repentance. This is one of the greatest injustices done in my opinion. It misses the great truth of the need for salvation; that we are all sinners, wretched and lost; that without Christ's sacrifice we would have to suffer the price of our sin eternally.

Sue J. said...

It can be difficult to accept the words of the Bible when we are so quick to lay our own culture, understanding, morals, etc. in front of it, as if a righteousness filter of some sort. No, the only way to be right with God is to be in a relationship with Him. Judgment and salvation--both are in His hands, not ours!

It is amazing what comes from Bible study, but how wonderful the opportunity to read the REAL Word on the subject, and for Godly wisdom to preside. Even if we don't get it, we need to admit that to God, and hear His Word in the light of His truth! (It's also a wonderful challenge of showing and sharing grace, and helping those come to know Him that much more!!)

Sassy Granny ... said...

Once I got it, I discovered the most amazing freedom I'd ever known - - not to mention having been fitted with a new heart, a changed life.

What a trade! I get it!!!!


I have been hearing a lot of bad theology on tv this week about the effect of our goodness and badness . . . with all the commentary Usama Bin Ladin.

So your post is timely.


Analisa said...

Girl. That is a word in season. The bible is clear, it's the rejection of the Son. No good work will get us into heaven. Only the work of Jesus on the cross and our acceptance of the fact that we need that for true salvation. Awesome post.

Terri Tiffany said...

I hope that woman who didn't get it did by the time your meeting ended. I get it! Some days more than others.

Sarah said...

What I find beautiful is that you've put yourself there to see the other side and walk in their shoes (mentally). Experiences like that are truly humbling and you see what salvation means to us all. Great post!