Hello everybody. It’s April. And it’s a good time to ask if you’re still pumped up for the year. How are you doing on the primary goal(s) you’ve set for the year? For some, things are beginning to shape up and you can already begin to see a beautiful end from the beginning. Congratulations. But if you’re anything like most of us, the natural propagation of the year brings with it its many happenings. Annoyingly, these many happenings are usually of little or no consequence to our primary objectives for the year. There’s that friend that wants to come and spend the weekend in your house doing nothing. One weekend gone! There’s that in-law you need to pick-up at the airport and drive to that conference on Saturday morning. Another weekend gone. And Daddy GO is coming to town too…the list is endless. We become busy with the business of life and our schedules become parked . Parked with things we think we have to do. And we begin to make excuses for complacency and irresponsibility. April is a good time to re-prioritize and re-focus our energy. Determine what is really important to us and go all in. Come to terms with our realities and quit pointing fingers. All I’m saying is we have to take responsibility for the progression of the year and our lives. If we abdicate responsibility of what gets included on our to-do list to others, we’ll have regrets at the end of the year. And by that time it will be too late to blame anyone even if we wanted to.
Now to weightier matters.
This is the third part of a series of notes where I share my God experience(s). Thank you for joining me again. The series is not necessarily chronological so there’s no particular order to read it. In part 1, I shared about how the unsophisticated approach to divinely documented history didn’t quite prepare me for life and in part 2, I shared about how culture and DNA can potentially mess up our understanding and practice of Christianity. You can read them here. Here’s the third installment.
In my childhood, we didn’t visit a lot of churches, we essentially stuck to one Pentecostal fellowship. While my parents had their admiration for some other Pentecostal denominations, they couldn’t abide some of them. They could not stand anything white garment for instance, because of their supposed connection with the marine kingdom. We attended our fair share of crusades and revivals (aka isoji) but, as you might guess, the thrust of most of these crusades was guilt tripping people into giving their lives to Jesus or praying that the people ‘doing us’ should fall down and die (no shades). So it didn’t do much for me.
Although my salvation journey began relatively early, I didn’t fully comprehend the idea of the very thing that makes salvation possible until much, much later in my Christian walk. The notion of Grace. Now, the idea and personage of grace is so expansive that no one can fully comprehend it (Eph. 3:17-19). And grace manifests in different forms in the life of a man. For example, there is the grace (or gifting) that makes it possible for a man to speak 6 different languages fluently. There’s the grace that makes every business venture a man touches turn into a gold mine. There’s the grace that supplies the physical needs of a woman and her children after losing her job for many months without borrowing a dime. That’s called sustaining grace. And so on. But for the sake of our conversation, I’m interested in the kind of grace that brings salvation. The one Paul describes in Titus 2:11. The kind that turns sinners into saints.
While I believed my salvation experience was true and genuine at the get go, the struggle with sin resumed almost immediately. There was a 2-7 day period when I was convinced beyond reasonable and unreasonable doubt that if the trumpet were to sound, I would make it into heaven for sure. Because I felt I had kept the law and ticked all the right boxes. Who wears an attire of filthy rages through the pearly gates? I didn’t know any better. After that 2-7 day window, it was a struggle. And the struggle was real. Christianity just seemed like work, work and more work with little attendant to joy and happiness. We were once taught about how we should tithe our time and so should spend at least 2.4 hours every day praying or reading our bible. It was these kinds of teachings that made Christianity seem somewhat burdensome at first. I couldn’t reconcile what Jesus said in Matthew 11:30 “For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.” That’s like a cool dude saying “I’m easy to get along with and I don’t impose or bother people.” And since Jesus can’t lie, there must be something I wasn’t quite getting right.
I wrestled with this until I stumbled on some of the teachings of Andrew Wommack and started to study the bible a little more closely. I began to understand that I had no hand in my own salvation and it is useless trying to complete in the flesh what was begun in the spirit (Gal. 3:3). I began to understand that it was actually possible to keep company with Jesus and live freely and lightly. (Matthew 11:30 MSG) I realized the futility of trying to please God using the standards of the law. And by the way, what we call the Ten Commandments is actually 611 commandments! Which are virtually impossible for anyone in our times to fulfill. So why do we insist on doing the impossible?
The reason for my late introduction to the immensity of grace is the simple fact that most Sunday school teachers and preachers didn’t talk about it. They refuse to preach the very thing that qualifies them. They insist on putting grace in a box and serving it in bits. They say they can’t preach grace because it will give people license to sin. But this is not true. Let me illustrate. If on your way to work one morning you get robbed and were left for dead and stranded on I-94 (for those who don’t know, I-94 is the highway between Chicago and Milwaukee). A man comes along, gives you a ride to work, gives you his new car and a one million dollar check. Two days later, the same man knocks on your door and asks you for a ride to work, would you refuse him? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Not only would you give him a ride to work, you’d ask him how else you could be of help to him. The only natural response to grace is gratitude and a heart that is responsive to the dynamic workings of the Holy Spirit. Period. In those days, even when we talked about grace, we still found creative ways to come up with these but’s and if’s. There are no but’s, if’s or maybe’s in grace. Grace invites everyone in without pre-conditions. Grace doesn’t use the same lens man uses. When we try to confine grace, we are bound to run into problems. Grace is constant. Grace is counterintuitive. Grace is not what we think it is. Grace is radical. And it is at the very heart of Christianity.
Here are a few lessons I have learned and continue to learn in this era of my Christian walk;
1) The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick. No one is good. We all need the kind of grace that brings salvation.
2) It is possible to be born again and not experience or understand the riches of grace. If your experiences don’t match what the bible promises, admit it, you must be doing something wrong.
3) Grace does not lead to licentiousness. Grace does not condone sin. The natural response to grace is immense gratitude for the finished work at Calvary.
4) We are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law. We are not under the law but under grace. And grace is able to save to the uttermost. That’s not my personal opinion, the bible says so. (Heb. 7:25) No if’s, but’s or when’s. We need to modify our Sunday school curriculum and stop teaching kids to obey the Ten Commandments.
If you would like to get acquainted with the giver of all grace, please say this prayer with me: Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus Christ died for me, and that you raised him from the dead. Please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my personal Lord and Savior. I am now born again. Amen.
In the next post, we’ll take a break from all these Christian Walk palaver and I’ll share some business lessons from my relationship shananigans. It promises to be a ghen ghen something.
Happy 1st of April.