Tax season gets everyone thinking about whatever it is they may "write off" in the interest of lowering their tax base. We search the books, attempting to find the specific expenses we may deduct, finding all the legal 'loopholes' that will reduce the overall tax penalty we are hit with each year. Why? We want all we work hard to acquire! If you have more than your high school diploma, didn't you have to work a little harder for that college degree? If you have more than an associate degree from the local community college, didn't the effort you put into obtaining that bachelor's degree require more than just another two years in school? Now, if you have gone on to achieve your master's degree or even a doctorate, think of all the effort that went into those hours agonizing over your projects, thesis, and graduation requirements. There is something within each of these accomplishments that gives us a sense of satisfaction - but even the best of write off's and legal loopholes, or the excellence we attain in our academics is nothing compared to the greatness of knowing Christ!
We gain or achieve things we believe to be important in life, only to realize they hold very limited 'excellence' in our lives when we hold them up to the gift of knowing and living in Christ Jesus. When it counts, we all want to be found belonging to him! What does it mean to truly belong? It isn't that we are his 'property', nor that we have the right 'pedigree' to be part of a group. It is more like we find he permeates our entire being and it is that presence within us that pulls us close to his heart, experiencing more and more of him until we almost burst because of his goodness and grace. Belonging isn't just a state of mind - it is a reality of the heart and spirit. When we belong to Christ, there is a harmony that occurs - our hearts and minds become one - led by the Spirit of God, our spirit is ignited by his. We begin to experience the passion he experiences. There is a new power that controls us - guiding our steps, clarifying our thoughts, and communicating his heart to others.
True righteousness is more than asking God to forgive our sins and then believing we are saved. It is allowing God to take all the things we have been counting on in life - looking for as things we can raise up as accomplishments - and giving them to him. As we yield these to him, acknowledging how little they really 'count' in terms of making us 'better' people, we find God's peace enters into our lives. Where peace dwells, life begins to change - because our life-focus has begun to change. It isn't our accomplishments that matter anymore - it is what he is accomplishing within us that becomes the central part of our existence. This is maybe the biggest mystery mankind will ever encounter - lives touched by the Spirit of God and the desire to exchange all that we held up as so important in our lives for the grace and peace of God. We won't find loopholes we can fall back on in his kingdom. We find grace - not a loophole - but rather a place and position of rest and security that gives us more 'return' than we ever will 'put into' life! Just sayin!