David danced before the LORD with all his might. -2 Samuel 6:14 ESV
How can you dance when you’re worried about how you look? An epidemic of self-awareness has diluted the waters of grace and redemption. If you preach about grace, a group comes up to demand more works. If you preach about works, another group drowns in inability. On one hand, you have self-sacrifice drenched in moral sweat on an easy-chair of self-satisfaction. On the other hand, you have the kind of hope that cannot be taken away by anyone or anything. Speak of grace and only grace because it is the only thing that can save. In all that you do, all the good that you can produce, none of it amounts to anything in the Kingdom that requires its subjects to realize their insufficiency and believe in the gift of salvation. That was the message that saved you in the first place. You know that someone is using forged currency if he or she doubts another’s relationship with God when they fall down.
You are not made right because you have proved your worth. If that were the case, you would have good reason to live in fear of failure. Wisdom is not an achievement, righteousness is not an action, redemption is not a reward for effort. These things are a Person. If you and your moral successes or failures were the hinge for salvation, you could be your own savior.
…because of [God] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” -1 Corinthians 1:30 ESV
You will never be able to take credit for your own life. If you can, then that’s your reward. Eternal life has never met the one who thinks he is good because he behaves. He gets pats on the back, respect from his peers, and even leadership positions. All trophies that mean nothing on the other side of physical death. You don’t have to know Jesus to live a moral life built on Christian standards. God removes all of the ways for you to save and improve upon yourself. He makes sure that if there is any ‘boasting’ to be done, it is in Jesus. The person whose need for Jesus is obvious is better off than the person who sees no current need for the cross. They are closer to “right” when they see their wrong than they are when all they see is their right.
The message of Jesus has been shared for centuries now. Fallen man–>the Savior –>man redeemed–>compare and contrast analysis of the life before Christ and the life after. People hear the compare and contrast portion of testimonies the same way they hear weight loss success stories. “If you want this, you have to do that and that and that.”…”Because I want to be healthy, I don’t do this or eat that.” … “Look at me, do what I do. Substitute with this. Follow this schedule. Join this group. Listen to this. Abstain. Engage. The more it hurts the more it works.” People watch what others do and then try to do it. Salvation does not come from imitation. It does not come by a completed checklist. It does not come because you earned it. Believing in Jesus unquestionably changes a person, but it’s the belief, not the effort. An unchanged person does not need your checklist to align their life, they need to be told the story of Jesus again. It’s always about Jesus. The depth is in Him. Wisdom comes from never losing sight of grace. When you attempt to move away from freedom and head into practice, you will lose sight of Jesus. You may be shiny, but you’ll still be lost. Focus on the inside. Changes will happen on the outside, but nobody is looking at them because no matter how much has changed, it will never amount to anything.
If I were preaching that old message, no one would be offended if I mentioned the Cross now and then—it would be so watered-down it wouldn’t matter one way or the other. Why don’t these agitators, obsessive as they are about circumcision, go all the way and castrate themselves! -Galatians 5:11
I could talk about self-control, rightly so. I could talk about doing the right thing and what my conservative opinions of a Christian life should look like. I may even get a lot of encouragement from other well-meaning do-gooders. We could have our own club, totally separate from ‘the world’ and draw the shades to our heart while we enjoy how Christian we are. Meanwhile, we suffocate a fallen sister because our lives don’t offer hope, they offer moral standards. You know you’re sending the wrong message if one of your members leaves the group when they make a moral mistake.
God set up grace so that He would never lose anyone. Set your life up that way, too.
Reckless abandon is complete faith that Jesus is our righteousness even when we are still sinners. Reckless abandon dances with all its might right in front of the group who swear dancing is a sin. Let those with shaky knees and clouded hearts think what they want. You answer to God. He likes shaming the wise by choosing to bring honor to what and who they think is foolish. If people are going to talk, let them talk about grace. Let them shake their heads at the ‘riffraff’ you let in your doors. After all, you’re there aren’t you?
...God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are…-1 Corinthians 1:27-28