Friday, August 24, 2018

The final frontier

Do you remember the saying, "Space, the final frontier", from the Star Trek opening voice over? The 'final frontier' can be defined as a lot of things, but it is most important that we define righteousness as our final 'frontier', and not sin! Our final destination is to be Christ - the frontier we discover is quite a change from the frontier we had been exploring prior to Christ! We arrive in style at our final destination in Christ – decked out in an adult faith wardrobe. In direct relationship with God, we are “more than washed up” for a fresh start, that thing we call righteousness. We are completely transformed - the absolute outcome of being made righteous. There is an exchange of character – although we may not immediately see the evidence of it in our daily lives, it has already been accomplished. Through our daily pursuit of his presence being cultivated in our lives, we come to recognize the change is already accomplished - it just may not be totally manifest in all our behaviors yet. 

But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe – Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original promise. (Galatians 3:25-27)
Our position in Christ is described as being in direct relationship with God - having no compromising or impairing element that would keep us apart from a holy God. Close logical relationship because of the accomplished work of Christ in our lives – with no intervening agency needed. In other words, the “rules” of the law were made void. We need to really grab hold of the implications of this 'position change'. As long as the heir is a minor, he has no advantage over the slave. Though legally he owns the entire inheritance, he is subject to tutors and administrators until whatever date the father has set for emancipation. That is the way it is with us: When we were minors, we were just like slaves ordered around by simple instructions (the tutors and administrators of this world), with no say in the conduct of our lives. (Galatians 4:1-3) A tutor is charged with the guidance and instruction of another. He has guardianship over that person – he’s responsible for the direct care of that individual. It is important for us to recognize that as we go through life each and every day, we WILL be tutored by someone or something. We can choose to be tutored by the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit, or we can embrace the tutelage of a rough and cruel world. 

We are never free from influencing factors that affect our choices. Those influencing factors affect our focus and ultimately, they challenge the integrity of our inner man (creating or filling the cracks or flaws in our inner man). Truly, those influences determine which "frontier" we actually explore. You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, “Papa! Father!” Doesn’t that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? (Galatians 4:5-7) You can tell for sure that you are fully adopted into the family of God – not just “sort of” in the family, but fully embraced as a member of the family with full rights to the inheritance of our Father. By the privilege of intimate conversation, we can be assured of our new standing in Christ. We have complete access, complete freedom, and complete transparency with a holy God – not just a system of works that appeases our conscience.

Those heretical teachers go to great lengths to flatter you, but their motives are rotten. They want to shut you out of the free world of God’s grace so that you will always depend on them for approval and direction, making them feel important. (Galatians 4:17) All the world offers is a system of approval that is fleeting at best - a "frontier" based upon how well we perform. The next time that someone beats our time, improves upon our design, exceeds our profits, or any similar 'grand accomplishment', we are no longer standing as “approved” by the world's standards - we have 'fallen behind' or 'fallen short'. It amazes me how easily we follow worldly, self-seeking leaders - seeking their approval and direction, only to be disappointed in the end. We have been provided only one 'worthy' tutor – the Holy Spirit. To turn to man for our approval or direction is to exclude God from his role in our lives. The question I pose today is simple: What is your tutor teaching? As you make daily decisions and face daily challenges, you will do well to subject the teaching you are about to embrace to the Word of God, the wise counsel of other mature believers, and the checks and balances of your own God-given conscience. Anytime we try to do by our own effort what was fully accomplished by grace, we place ourselves in a position of bondage to the rules. God wants us to know that we can be free of this bondage. Our trust in a finished work of Christ in us brings clarity of vision, centering of purpose, and deep, intimate fellowship with our God. Truly, it is as though we have stepped from one 'frontier' into another! Just steppin!