So DH found an awesome tricycle for Maximus, and it was a reasonable price, so he bought it. 😀 (… as we speak, he is sitting on top of Max on the couch, saying, ‘Where is Max? Where’d he go?’ and Max is squealing with laughter) Like most things that you buy online, or even through a catalogue, the package states, ‘Some assembly required’. This usually means ‘break out the Craftsman tools because all we sent you was hole-punched parts and little baggies of screws’.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that we didn’t actually purchase a tricycle- we had purchased the potential for a tricycle. All we had were the parts and the instructions. Well- technically we had the tools- if you count the chintzy pretend wrench that they included with the packaging… We needed tools, some technical aptitude, and some muscle power. In other words, turning that pile of parts into a tricycle depended entirely on US.
This is an idea that is widely understood. We are expected to supply whatever is needed for completion of the project; for the thing to become REAL, we need to do the work.
To my dismay, I had an inspiration today. (sounds strange, but bear with me) Most modern Christians treat Salvation as a mail-ordered, some-assembly-required, purchase. Many of us have been raised to believe that our forgiveness depends on what we DO. We are raised to believe that every little thing we can possibly screw up could jeopardize our redemption. We think “Sure, Jesus died, a sacrifice for all of our sins, but I have to also ACT like a Christian.” The trouble is that there is no one definitive list in the Bible that tells us how a modern day Christian should act. So a great many preachers, pastors, priests, rabbis and plain old Joes have created their own lists. I covered a little of how this happens in this post. This is Salvation- ‘some assembly required’ style.
The beginning is innocent. We CRAVE relationship with our Creator. We desire to be obedient to Him, because we love him. This is the purest of human love.
So while we cast around trying with every ounce of our human effort to become (on our own) what God wants us to be, we are particularly susceptible to false teaching. Who knows WHY some people create their own version of OT Law, and then try to recruit others to it? The reason is probably different for every person. Regardless, each one has preached their version of Law as the ONLY way to BE a Christian. Biblically there is only one way! It’s through Jesus. He is the Way, remember? Only him. Oh, I could quote scripture for you, all night long… but I’m not going to do that- mostly because I’d rather you went and read it yourself… So much on my heart here, to say to you… Every one of the men (I don’t know of women but I’m sure there are some) whose names I know who have put forward a formula, a recipe, a technique for ‘being christian’, have lost sight of Christ. They make Redemption and Christ’s blood LESS important because they put SO much emphasis on all the ways a Christian must act if he or she is to be considered a ‘true’ child of God.
I’ve got news for you!!! (and yes, I’m feeling angry about now) WE ARE ALL GOD’S CHILDREN!!! EVERY. Single. One. In Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, He makes clear that the son who disobeyed and was living in obvious sin, was NO LESS his Father’s child (!!!!) than the son who had stayed home and done everything right, and pretended to be happy. If we have not yet accepted God’s gift of reconciliation, we are his children. If we once had, but have wandered away, we are still his! He MADE us. We are his. It is true that when we accept his Gift, when we confess our sins and accept forgiveness, we become heirs to His Kingdom- in that; we are His in a specific and special way. But the meanest sinner is His child, and he weeps no less over their pain than he does over ours.
Pearl likes to talk about submission and sweetness and the Dad being the absolute head over the entire family forever. Gothard likes to talk about everyone being in proper submission too, and preaches about an ‘umbrella of protection’ that these uber-godly people supposedly benefit from. Dobson loves to talk about how a parent must CONTROL his child, or he or she will never have control of herself, and worse will never accept Christ as Savior. Dr. Dobson goes so far as to claim that your child will never want to try drugs, or have premarital sex if you spank them consistently enough. Each of these men teaches that if we do not ascribe to their ‘truths’ we are less than Christian, less than obedient. They are wrong.
I said back there a bit that the only way of salvation is through Jesus. Why can we say this with confidence? What scriptural support can we find? When Jesus died on the cross, at the moment of his death, the curtain in the temple was ripped in two in such a way as to declare that no human effort could have accomplished it. OK, so what was so special about this curtain? For those of you who are not familiar, the curtain hung between the inner court where most worship took place, and the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies was THE place where the Presence of the Lord resided. You see at this point, God the Father was not yet ‘God WITH us’. That title was claimed by him at the moment of his birth. I don’t know if anyone REALLY understood that this Jesus was Messiah until the moment of his death. In fact, scripture tells us that even his closest friends did NOT understand. So for the Hebrews, God resided in the Holy of Holies, in the temple. Going through that curtain meant entering into the living presence of the Most High. Only the High Priest could enter and only on the Day of Atonement- and he had to prepare himself carefully. They understood this to be a dangerous endeavor- so much so that a rope was tied around the ankle of the High Priest… just in case he was not prepared properly and God chose to strike him dead.
Jesus’ death and the torn curtain sent a powerful message to the Hebrews. God’s presence was now freely accessible!!! Man did not have to fear his Creator’s presence any longer!! Jesus death paid any penalties we might ever incur. And WHILE it did this, it ALSO cleared the way for Him to be Emmanuel, the God who is among his people (my own spin on it), and it made it possible for every single one of us to be ‘his people’. It is by GRACE we are saved, through FAITH, and NOT by works. But all of these people who preach this message of ‘you must follow these rules, speak this way, wear these clothes, read this translation, punish your children in this exact way’ say that your works- what you DO is the key to being a child of God. They preach that it is ‘Grace, PLUS!!’ as Dr. Stephen Manley says it; in other words, grace plus works. Parts, PLUS muscle and a few tools… Salvation under our own power.
Salvation under our own power is Heresy.
We have a tremendous gift- the best one anyone could get. God our Father was brokenhearted over our separation from Him. He sent his son- part of himself – to be a human and die sinless. HE did it people!!! Not US! All we can do is BELIEVE. All we can do is reach out and claim the gift HE made, that HE gave. Salvation comes to us by Grace… No Assembly Required.