Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Hardest Question

Conviction:  (in my own words) the ability of the Holy Spirit in you to make you realize something you didn't know or understand before.  It might be a sin you need to turn from, something you need to start doing, something you need to stop doing (not necessarily sinful), a promise given over a circumstance that basically reminds you to let it go, a new application of a verse you've read a hundred times but now has a completely different meaning for the time and place you are in your life. Bascially, God speaking to you in a way that lines up with Scripture to make you 'get it' whatever 'it' may be.

The easiest way for me to explain this is like this.  Exercise in and of itself is not a bad thing.  Exercise is good for your body but can undoubtedly be taken to unhealthy extremes, particularly if you are using it to achieve something that is not God-honoring (like turning other heads in jealousy #SelfishAmbition) or as punishment for lack of self-control with food (#Gluttony).  And so for some of us that have a sinful nature that sways between the two extremes mentioned, 1 Corinthinians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God has a personal application in that particular area of our lives.  For me I tend to fall somewhere in the gluttony arena and envious of the shape I used to have that after 2 kids and 20 years of time, I don't know that I can get back or am disciplined enough to get back, or that there is a point to getting back.  I'm working on this.  A lot.

After reading The Broken Way, I understood what it meant to be a part of the body of Christ from an entirely different perspective.  All of the sudden I could see bearing my cross as a way of dying to self so that others might live, seeing what was possible, if I could/would just do my part.  I could get why we each have our own time and place and burdens and thorns because we each have a purpose that allows us to serve God's kingdom plan and others.  This swirls in my head constantly and is why I am drawing this cross on my wrist daily.

This morning the Bible reading plan I am following had me in 1 Peter 1.  This is the one that starts with the trials that prove our faith genuine.  This passage is familiar.  I was anticipating the next parts when I stopped dead in my tracks at 15, because as you might have guessed, it followed verse 14.

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived
in ignorance.  But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.

In the time it took me to read those verses and completely halt my progress, it occurred to me that once you have been convicted you are called to be an obedient child, to no longer live in ignorance, and to be holy in what you've been called to.

And, as if that weren't enough, verses 18 and 19 continue with this:

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were
redeemed from the empy way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 
but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

But wait, we aren't done yet.  Verses 22-23 are the knock out that puts you down for the count.

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have 
sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.  For 
you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable,
through the living and enduring word of God.

I think if Paul had written this I'd have handled it much better.  But it wasn't Paul.  It was Peter.  The one who denied Jesus 3 times.  The one Jesus asked "Do you love Me?" three times.  He is the one that put these words to papyrus through conviction of the Holy Spirit.

The connection for me was undeniable.  When God uses His Spirit to reveal something to you that is of kingdom value and purpose for your time, place, and purpose on this earth in His story, He is essentially asking you the same question:  Do you love Me?

The importance of me getting this and doing this simply can not be over-estimated.  I don't know what if anything it means to you.  But what I do know is that if I live my life to honor God in all I do, the overflow of my love for Him should be spilled out on everyone.  The likelihood of me making a choice of mass destruction decreases because I am allowing the conviction of the Holy Spirit to make a difference in my actions, thoughts, behaviors, and words.  It doesn't mean I can't get it wrong or that I won't get it wrong, it just means the odds are slightly in my favor because I am focused on being holy because He is holy.

We are called to be the body, we are called to build one another up, we are called to die to ourselves, live for Him, and carry our cross.  Until today I never saw it in light of Him asking me the hardest question I will ever have to answer, because in answering it, I can no longer afford to act as an ignorant child.  And so as I say, "Yes I love You" in response, some things need to change, now.

Jesus, even when it's a hard word to receive, it is still a good, living, active word that I need. Desperately.  This is something I know you've been building up to because You laid ground work to open the eyes of my heart to see this.  I am going to need to rely on Your sufficient grace because I simply can not do this on my own.  But mercifully, You have never, and will never ask me to.  Help us get this one right.  Whatever it looks like in our individual lives so that we can see more glimpses of Your kingdom until You come again.  Amen.

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