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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I need a little pampering!

It was C.S. Lewis that reminded us when we aim at heaven, we get earth thrown in, but when we aim at earth below, we end up with not much in return. If you haven't read much of what he has written, he is well worth the read. It was Lewis that also reminded us of the thing we call "self" - not being more than a "meeting place" of sorts for things that we refer to as "natural forces", "fears", and "desires" - some from within us, others from without. That "meeting place" is frequented by these things because of our upbringing, influences from around us, and even some of the "devils" we cannot really see but know must exist just because of all we experience. Probably one of the greatest things I remember from his writing is the statement: "The self you were really intended to be is something that lives not from nature, but from God." We might think we are a product of our environment, and we might just be correct, for when our "environment" is Christ's presence, we cannot help but become like him!

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. (Romans 5:8-11 NLT)

Many of us would hardly do any sacrificial deed for an enemy, let alone give our lives for one. We might do it for a friend, but one who is actually distanced from us, separated from us because of some great chasm - that requires something different than most of us possess naturally. It is important for us to realize it was while we "were still sinners" that God made a way for that chasm to be bridged through his Son. God didn't wait for us to get half our act cleaned up, or even all of it - he did it before we even realized our act needed any cleaning up! Stop for a moment and chew on that one, friend. Nothing we do gets us any closer to God - nothing we desire keeps us any further from him. We are a "product of the environment" into which we are "reborn" - we become like Christ because Christ draws us out of the environment we are languishing in apart from his grace and into the environment where we can begin to live anew by his grace.

As Lewis implied, our aim is not to live as close to earth as possible. It is to live as close to the heart of Jesus as we are invited to do through his grace! We don't choose the families into which we are born, raised, and nurtured on this earth. We don't even know the idea of "family" even exists until we are more than a couple years old and realize there are continual people around us we come to count on in some regard for food, warmth, and protection. Is it any wonder many new believer bumbles around for a while with this new life in Christ - trying to figure out what it is they have been "born into"? If we stop for a moment to think about it, we might just realize it is kind of like when we first recognized we were part of a family on this earth - there were others who cared for us, looked out for us, and ensured we were continually safe. As a believer, we walk through some of the same "questions" in our walk with Christ - we need to know we will be cared for, our needs will matter to him, and that we can be safe in his protection.

Those "feelings" of family begin to emerge the closer we get to his heart. His reassurances come over and over again to us as we draw closer, even when the times all around us seem to be challenging us on every side and in ways we never imagined probable. The closer we are to the heart of the Jesus, the more we tend to reflect his character in our lives - even when self resists a little because it doesn't get its own way. The self we become isn't reliant anymore upon upbringing and environment in the natural sense, but it is reliant upon who we now draw our strength and purpose from in the spiritual sense. If we struggle a little with detachment from the old way of living, that is to be expected. Closure has to occur in any "relationship" we have maintained. We had a "relationship" with our old self - and we pampered that person quite religiously! Now we need to embrace a relationship with the "new self" and begin to allow Christ to "pamper" the new creation we are becoming in him. One who is pampered is treated with excessive care and concern - something Christ can do very well when given full reign over our lives. Just sayin!