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Friday, April 15, 2016

Standing at the Judge's feet

We often hear of court cases in which the one on trial is "acquitted" of the alleged crimes.  In our lives, we have more than "alleged" crimes we are asking for God's acquittal for - we have actual crimes of the heart, spirit, soul, and sadly, most of them are of our own doing!  Every time we want our own way, determine we can do things in our own strength, or live in any manner in opposition to God's commands, we are in a place of committing "crimes" against God.  We stand in need of acquittal - dismissal of those charges against us - cleared of their penalty.  Acquittal frees us from the charges against us, allowing us to live freely again, but if we violate that freedom by choosing to live by our own standards again, we will just find ourselves "before the Judge" once more. I don't know if you have realized this, but there is a high rate of recidivism when it comes to doing things our own way!

Since we have been acquitted and made right through faith, we are able to experience true and lasting peace with God through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King. Jesus leads us into a place of radical grace where we are able to celebrate the hope of experiencing God’s glory. And that’s not all. We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness. And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love. (Romans 5:1-5 VOICE)

The good news in all this is that we don't find ourselves acquitted by God, only to go out on our own.  He places a "mentor" alongside us to help us walk in a new path - Jesus himself.  Read a little closer in this passage and you will see he places us in Jesus' hands so he is able to lead us into a place of radical grace - the place where we can revel in the goodness of God setting us right, helping us live right, and pulling us back on course whenever we want to veer from it. Men or women who have lived a life of crime and experienced the places of imprisonment which come with these choices will tell you the hardest part is beginning again once they are released.  Why?  The way of life they knew before imprisonment and that which they lived while imprisoned has a hold on them which draws them back in.  It is hard to not return to your crimes because they often are a whole lot easier than "doing things the right way".

This is why we need a mentor to help us adjust to our new found freedom.  It is our mentor (Jesus) who actually helps us to understand freedom comes with times of suffering - times when things don't always go right, the journey gets a little tougher than we'd like it to be, or the desire to do things the "easy way" is hard to resist.  It is his role to teach us how to endure the tough times, developing this quality known as endurance - the ability to continue or "last" through the hard times.  He continually reminds us of the grace he provides, not to beat us over the head with it, but to help us see a way out of the circumstances which want to pull us back into the old way of living.  The truth of the matter - no mentor is of any value in a person's life until they begin to submit to the mentoring.  So, if we don't want to slide back into some former way of living which will find us squarely standing before the Judge of all mankind without an excuse, we might want to submit to the mentoring of Jesus in our lives.

Hope stems from leaning into those moments of mentoring when Jesus tenderly whispers in our ear, "Choose differently this time", or "You can do it" and we actually believe and obey that coaching in our lives.  This is all mentoring is - coaching. It is the encouragement Jesus gives to make right choices, which lead to right actions, and yield outcomes different from those we had produced before.  They may be small steps, but even the smallest victory has a way of causing a ground-swell of hope within the spirit of a man!  Just sayin!