A while back I was hanging with some guys at a coffee shop and we were enjoying talking about the grace of Jesus; musing over, or rediscovering, as it were, the good news for us. I began to try and explain a thought I had been pondering recently, but thought I was not going to be able to really explain what was in my head. I still don’t know if it came out clearly.
But here is my attempt: when I am living by grace, by the gospel of Jesus, I feel free to enjoy the lifeness of life; the colors all around me; the image-of-God-bearers all around me; the taste of black coffee in the morning; or the taste of coffee with a dash of Narnia-magic (sweet creamer); a freshness of cool winter air; the smell of a fire in the air; the stillness that can so easily evade us. Does that make sense? Maybe not yet.
What I meant to say became clear later that afternoon when I read something by Steve Brown. In his book, Three Free Sins, he says, “…perfectionism is so obsessive we hardly have any time to do anything but try harder until we get it right.” Thats it. That is what I was trying to say.
When I am bogged down by a list of things I must do, the Law of God that tells me unless I am perfect I will die, I have no room in my life to do anything but continue to try harder. To continue to refine myself, get better, grow more, perform well, and be a radical Christian. In short, I’m not free at all. I am under the oppression of the demands of the Law; demands I can’t and never will meet fully. I am not free to live.
In this obsessiveness, I get worse. I am more self-centered, unconcerned with people around me, unable to enjoy God’s gifts, and unable to enjoy God himself, which is how he is glorified in my life. In short, the very attempt of “getting better” to earn God’s love makes me worse and even less qualified for God’s love (if that is possible). What am I left to do? Come to the cross and rest in Christ. Jesus did it all for me. Jesus was perfect and is perfect for me. Jesus has set me free, and I must consider myself dead to the law and alive to Christ and his grace. I’m free to know and enjoy God, enjoy His gifts, and look outside of myself in love to my neighbor. I’m free to forget about me.