Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Mmmmmm....do you smell the bread baking?

4 I can never stop thanking God for all the wonderful gifts he has given you, now that you are Christ’s: 5 he has enriched your whole life. He has helped you speak out for him and has given you a full understanding of the truth; 6 what I told you Christ could do for you has happened! 7 Now you have every grace and blessing; every spiritual gift and power for doing his will are yours during this time of waiting for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8 And he guarantees right up to the end that you will be counted free from all sin and guilt on that day when he returns. 9 God will surely do this for you, for he always does just what he says, and he is the one who invited you into this wonderful friendship with his Son, even Christ our Lord. (I Corinthians 1:4-9 TLB)

As a child, packaged bread moved from just being a loaf placed in a paper wrapper at the bakery to this loaf of "enriched sliced bread" that was conveniently all cut the same size, wrapped to stay fresh in plastic bags, and just the right texture to make the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We had a bakery plant in our town and driving by that plant during the day left you hungry! The delectable aroma of fresh baked bread wafting through the air made you want to slow down and just enjoy it for a while. Our homes used to smell like that, but somehow with the 'new and improved, enriched bread' in a loaf at the grocer we lost the delightful moments of experiencing all that richness wafting through the air. Sometimes what might enrich our lives one way just doesn't enrich it other ways, right? We label those things as 'improvements', but are they really? Unless Christ is at the center of each of those 'improvements' in life, we are probably not experiencing the enrichment as deeply as we could!

Enrichment comes into our lives in various forms, but when Christ is at the center, here are some things we can count on to enrich us like nothing else ever could:

1) A deeper understanding of truth - the ability to recognize truth apart from untruth is indeed a gift we cannot take for granted. There is always at least one element of truth in every lie - it is what makes the untruth believable. The ability to have a full understanding of truth isn't possible if we are trying to sort it out through the eyes clouded by a sin nature. We need to see truth through the eyes that know only purity and holiness - through the eyes of Christ.

2) Every grace and blessing is ours to not only improve our lives, but to become the means by which we invest in the lives of others, as well. Grace is unmerited favor - getting what we don't deserve. Blessing follows closely behind grace, for everything that enriches our lives is a blessing, even when the blessing is disguised behind what some may think of as negative circumstances. Even the 'negative' drives us closer to God - for it makes us desperate for his intervention. Nothing could be more enriching in our lives than to experience his grace time and time again.

3) Every spiritual gift and all the power we need to do his will are ours in Christ Jesus. We don't just get blessed with a little, we get blessed with the 'whole enchilada'. We might think what we have been given in Christ is small in comparison with what we see in another's life, but that is the danger in comparison. We find ourselves thinking we don't have what we need, all the while forgetting that where Christ is is exactly where ALL power and EVERY spiritual gift is free to act!

4) Freedom from all sin and the guilt associated with that sin - this is probably one of the most 'felt' parts of being 'enriched' by Christ's presence. We don't know true freedom until we have experienced it the way Christ provides it. An animal in a cage thinks they are free just because they get set out into a yard with a fence around it. They are still 'encased' in their limited world, though. To be truly free, the animal must not only escape the cage, but scale the wall! To be truly free from sin and guilt, we need to allow Christ to bring down the wall - because scaling it only leaves the wall intact - with the possibility of captivity constantly looming in our rear-view mirror!

We aren't enriched by the things we amass, or the deeds we perform that others label as 'good' or 'sacrificial'. We are enriched because there has been a change of heart - a change of character. This is what God's power within us accomplishes. The more we are enriched by Christ, the more enjoyment of that enrichment we experience! Just sayin!