saving the rich

Posted: May 15th, 2012 | Filed under: life | Tags: , | 9 Comments »

Over the past few years of writing and talking to people about grace, God’s sovereignty, His choosing, and the adversity He brings us to and through, a question has laced itself through my journey.

How do you know that you need Jesus?

I wrote on a friend’s blog a couple of years ago and a comment has stuck with me this entire time. I thought it was ugly, it was hurtful, and the commenter’s mentality still bothers me. I didn’t speak up enough in response and that’s probably why it’s still with me. I was a guest writer in a series about guarding your marriage from an affair. I was the voice of the one who had done the unthinkable. I wrote about how I was able to have an affair and what I learned about boundaries between men and women. I also gave several tips about how to recognize when you’re on the path before you go too far. I thought this information would be eye opening mainly because I’m just like you. I’m not a dirty woman who carries no regard for the sanctity of marriage, but I was naive and learned something that I think can help people avoid my path. The commenter told me that I was the last person she wanted to hear from on this subject. She said that it was like hearing how to be a good parent from someone who drowned their children. She said that she wanted to hear from a woman who had been happily married for decades so she could glean her tips. I was paralyzed from the sting of disregard and I’ve been mad at myself since.

The thing is, a woman who had drowned her children can tell you her symptoms before she did the unthinkable and those who have similar symptoms would be able to be sufficiently scared enough to seek help before they temper the bath water. Nobody thinks they could do something like that and few think they would actually carry out an affair.

Someone who is distracted by feeling alive again doesn’t realize that they’re losing pieces of their loyalty. They won’t identify with a woman who has never felt her heart shift direction.

Along with that, I have been challenged by people who have never faced real adversity in their lives. They grew up in great families, have great lives, and haven’t done anything really …wrong.

It’s hard for me to keep myself from feeling like they don’t have a clue. They don’t know pain, they haven’t seen their worst, and they haven’t really suffered for anything. How can they know a Savior if they’ve never needed to be rescued?

This is my struggle. I struggle with it because I don’t understand how someone can come to terms with the depth of Jesus sacrifice if they haven’t known, without question, that it was the only thing severe enough to actually stand a chance of being sufficient punishment for their own sins.

Like an animal who writhes and convulses before death. I writhed before I believed. I don’t understand people who have never writhed.

I read a blog recently that talked about the other side of self-rightiousness. The gist was that people who, like me, believe that they understand grace more than those who haven’t been rescued as dramatically as them can be another form of ‘self-rightious’. ‘Self-rightious’ because we think other believers don’t get it. Even to the point of wondering if a person can really be ‘saved’ if they don’t understand grace. I have often wondered if I was really ‘saved’ before my big sin. That would mean that for nine years I thought I was a Christian when I was actually someone who altered my lifestyle to align with the Christian tradition. I don’t have that answer. I thought I was, but in retrospect with the ability to compare, I have serious doubts. I was a new type of person before, but I have no doubt that I am a new creation after.

If I am right, and I’m not saying I am, then how many other people are just great people who live by the Christian standards, but don’t really know Jesus as a redeemer? Redeemed from what? Don’t you need to know to really know?

Going back to the blog about self-rightiousness: I think a person is self-rightious when they think they have something that others don’t and they hold that over the other’s heads. I don’t think a person is self-rightious if they think they know something that others don’t and they try to spread the word so everyone can know it, too. You can recognize that someone isn’t living in freedom and want that for them enough to keep talking about it.

How do you know that you really need Jesus?

A young man asked Jesus, “Teacher, what good deed must I do tohave eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”

 “Which ones?”  

“You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

“All these I have kept. What do I still lack?”

“If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 

When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” -taken from Matthew 19:16-24

I don’t think that passage is just about material wealth. I think it’s about security. I think it’s about not really having a struggle. I think it’s about a really good person with a really good heart, but no real need.

It’s easy for people like me. I want no part of myself because I’ve seen who I really am. I live only for Him, otherwise, I need to be snuffed out.

Jesus said it was harder for them to enter the Kingdom of God and I think it’s because they have to let go of all the good things that they feel they’ve been ‘blessed’ with because it reveals what’s really there. What’s left when all your ‘blessings’ and ease of character are gone? It’s hard to see your need when life doesn’t really give you one. You enter the Kingdom of God by letting go of everything you have to offer, everything you’ve been given, and everything you are. If you have no reason to let that go, then it’s really, really hard for you.

If there is/was nothing missing in your life, if you’ve never reached the magnitude of Jesus sacrifice with your depravity, then how do/did you know you need(ed) Jesus? How do you really know your rescuer?

'grace is for sinners'



9 Comments on “saving the rich”

  1. 1 exegete77 said at 11:01 am on May 15th, 2012:

    Spot on, Serena.

    I find it interesting that after David’s multiple sins (lust, adultery, murder), in his confession of Psalm 51, he writes this: “Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You” (Psa. 51:13). In other words, because of our sins, and God’s forgiving and restoring grace, we become his instruments of grace to others. You are doing that. Do give up, don’t be discouraged. You have an important voice for all to hear!


  2. 2 Sheri said at 11:36 am on May 15th, 2012:

    I am like you, I have tasted much of my own limitations and I now live for him. I sometimes look at the others whose big problem is finding a renter for their third property and wonder if they know the Jesus I know. I know they stare at me when I speak of him as if I am alien because of how intimate and real God is in my life. I know I stir them up to question themselves, but they seem to just be able to smooth the wrinkles out and any wonderment passes. What I have in me, sparks questions but it does not catch. So the only thing that makes my relationship so deep with Christ is the level of which He saved me. Blessed are they that hunger after righteousness, for they shall be filled.

  3. 3 dawn said at 12:37 pm on May 15th, 2012:

    Serena, my story and experiences are very similar to yours. The part you shared in this blog about wondering if you were really saved before your failure I have also examined for myself a great deal. I think yes, definitely we were saved, knew God, walked with God, were in relationship with Yeshua but not as deeply as we are now. The depths of God are unfathomable, not everyone needs or wants the closeness we must have.
    I can accept that others know God in a different way than I do, but are just as saved as I am. I thank Him that they never fell to the depth I did and can know Him as a loving Father.

  4. 4 Julie R. said at 12:56 pm on May 15th, 2012:

    I know I have to be careful not to look down my nose at those who have not "suffered" prior to their receiving God's forgiveness. I have to watch my attitude about their understanding of grace. I believe we all have the same level of saving grace, but the "difference" is kind of like the difference between a person being pulled from a car before it plunges over a cliff and being told not to go near the cliff and being obedient. Both people are safe, no question. But the person who was pulled from the car is going to have an automatic heightened sense of how close he/she came to losing it all. The person who was warned and listened, has still been prevented from the horrible end…but they are every bit as much in a place to turn around and tell those behind them…
    don't go near that edge, its a cliff.
    I'm not "more saved" just because I was in the car…

  5. 5 Melissa said at 7:05 pm on May 15th, 2012:

    This is part of the reason I have loosened the reins on my teenagers, especially the son who is questioning his faith. At first, I panicked. How could he question something I feel so deeply (and have attempted to pass on to my children since they were very small)? Then I remembered that I questioned God until I needed deep, unsurpassing grace. If that is how my son will find his way to truly knowing God than I am okay with it.

    Because it is in the dark places that grace shines bright
    My recent post Motherhood led me back to Jesus

  6. 6 brownpaperandstrings said at 9:21 pm on May 15th, 2012:

    Hey there. I don't know what bloggers run in what blog circles, so forgive me if you are aware of Emily Freeman's, "Grace for the Good Girl." Let me just say that I am one of those "good" girls who hasn't ever really done anything wrong, but that's so not true. Even good girls know that they are not good; they practice being good enough. Over time, their system will always break down, or that's my theory. But my life has not been all daisies and roses and good things. I have experienced deep pain, although it may not have been as deep as your pain, but how can one know or even compare? About a year ago, a friend whose background has more rebellion in it began sharing in bible study about her pain. I shared a lesson I had learned, and she cut me down, as if God's grace was not sufficient for those who are relatively "good." Pain is pain is pain; however you slice or dice it.

    A year prior and over the course of the same time frame, God was really deepening my awareness of grace. Of what it really means for me. And He was calling me to ministry. The problem was I began thinking due to her comments, "What if I am useless for ministry because I have not sinned enough {from a human standpoint}." Obviously, this is a lie from the enemy. I am a sinner and sin is sin.

    Grace had to come to me by a deep and obvious realization that I was not good, even though my life has been much easier than it could have been. I was not afraid to believe and receive God's working in women who have experienced great regret and loss through sins like adultery and affairs through blogs like yours. Their preaching and teaching of God's working in them taught me, deepened me, strengthened me.

    I need Him every minute of every day just as much as you do. But I've been the one who did not understand my deep need for Him after I accepted Him as Savior. And I saw the fruits of Him in my life. I experienced His Spirit at times, and I experienced the sting of His discipline too. I can only say that I know Him at a greater and deeper intimacy now than I did then, but I know without doubt that I knew Him in my shallowness as well. I was "good," but I had to come to the end of myself as well. And so I do the same thing, I tell others of the good news of this glorious grace and I talk about it over and over. Maybe I will affect some "good" girl like you and others like you have affected me.
    My recent post Five Minute Friday: Identity

  7. 7 serenawoods said at 8:56 am on May 16th, 2012:

    I had a great conversation with my sister-in-law the other day. She came from a loving family, grew up in church, and is now the youth pastor for a large church here in town. Her entire life has had her faith at the center. She's never gone through a time of questioning or branching out on her own. That is so foreign to me. My entire life has been a struggle.

    Sitting here right now, I don't wish that I had a different life. I like who I am and I like that I'm still becoming. I was able to ask her how she knew she needed Jesus. I asked her because she represents the other portion, yet I know her well enough to know that she is good at offering grace. This kids in her youth group go through all kinds of trauma that she's never known, but she knows how to point them back to Jesus.

    She didn't have the most satisfying answer and it made us both think for a while. It was a good conversation and ended with us acknowledging that God trains us for the purpose He created us for. If we are 'soldiers' in an army, then we are trained for where we're sent. I think it's as simple as that. We're unique, we may not understand each other completely, but we're all in the same family and have our own purpose in the big picture.

    I'm good with that. That's a satisfying conclusion for me.

  8. 8 dawn said at 10:09 am on May 16th, 2012:

    I'm good with that too, it makes sense. I'm glad you were able to talk with someone about this. Like you I have hard questions, doubts and always struggle. It has been quite a challenge to find others with enough patience or love to listen to me and try to enlighten me.

  9. 9 brownpaperandstrings said at 11:10 am on May 16th, 2012:

    I love that, Serena. And agree wholeheartedly with this. 🙂 I am a struggler too. But that's a story for another time. We are all on a beautiful journey.
    My recent post Five Minute Friday: Identity

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