Sunday, August 23, 2009

Raising the Bar.

According to Romans 8:2, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

I've been thinking about this verse lately. It is a blessing to be set free from a law that condemned instantaneously, a law where punishments were dolled out openly even to the extent of stoning a rebellious child (Deut. 21:18). We are freed from a law justifying an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth.

With this knowledge though, I don't like thinking that our new faith system, a faith of limitless grace and mercy, is easier or a fluffy version of the past. In fact, I think the opposite is true.

We were rescued from a law that we couldn't follow. We inevitably would break it. We did. Christ came to offer grace to us because we are fallible and we need grace. With this knowledge I don't believe we should consider ourselves free of trying to obey. In many ways, I feel Christ raised the bar. He internalized the law.

Instead of shooting someone in the back...we are guilty of malicious slander or hate.
Instead of cheating on our spouses...we are guilty of staring down Hollywood hotties.
Instead of bowing down to a golden calf...we are guilty of busy schedules, missed worship services and bowing to self.
Instead of stealing our neighbors cow...we are guilty of nabbing hotel towels.
Instead of remembering the sabbath...we over-extend ourselves 'till we can't serve.

Because we have grace, it is easy to not expect much of ourselves. When in reality the bar was raised to include our heart's intent. I never want to excuse myself from obedience because I fake myself into believing that I've been freed of it or that I'll be forgiven anyway.

If we love Him...we'll love the unlovable even when they don't love us back.
If we love Him...we'll be faithful to our spouses physically, emotionally, and mentally.
If we love Him...we'll rearrange everything in our lives and put Him first.
If we love Him...we'll raise the bar.

Consider this...Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God (1 Peter 2:16).

The old law foreshadows the intent of the heart in Deuteronomy 10:12-13. "What does the Lord your God want from you? The Lord wants you to respect and follow him, to love and serve him with all your heart and soul, and to obey his laws and teachings that I am giving you today. Do this, and all will go well for you." My guess is God knew our hearts would be the problem. Our actions simply follow suit.

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