Tuesday, August 13, 2013

School Days

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions. Titus 2:11-12

“School days, school days.
Dear old rules for fools days.
Reading and writing
and ‘rithmatic. 
Each one selected to
make you sick!"

For a child, nothing is as liberating as the last day of school and breaking free from the confines of classrooms and homework. We’ve all had teachers who made our educational experience a joy. Then there were the teachers from hell…you know the rest of that story. To our astonishment, Graduation Day didn’t end the cycle of learning. We moved to a different venue with a more self-directed approach. Failure here can be catastrophic and makes the F in biology or any other subject look like a cake walk.

A similar phenomenon occurs when we embark on a relationship with God. The stakes are even higher and the results last eternally. We have two instructors, Law and Grace. 

I consider Law our teacher from hell so to speak, and absolutely essential for our growth and development. The Law provides the entrance exam we need to pass in order to be in right relationship with God. Quickly from the Law we learn this important lesson.

So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we may be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. Galatians 3:24-25

Honestly, we need someone or something to jerk the slack out of our chains. Harbor delusions of grandeur about your goodness and the Law sets you straight. Here are the rules and regs. Break even one and you’re disqualified. Guess what? The bar is set so high we all fail the entrance exam. And that’s ok.

The Law’s done its job and taught us what we needed to know. In and of ourselves we miss the mark by more than a country mile. We all know how long they can be. Fortunately, we have a Savior who took the test for us and aced it. When we accept what He did on our behalf we enter the school of Grace.

Back in the 90’s the Christian group Jacob’s Trouble recorded a song, Church of Do As You Want To. The catchy tune’s chorus went:
“It’s at the church of do what you want to,
the church of do what you please.
The church of do what feels good baby,
and believe what you want to believe.
No absolutes, no wrong or right, just ambiguity.”
Though not the original intent of the song, this is a widely held misconception about life under grace. Grace doesn’t hand out licenses to sin, as if they're needed. Titus tells us that grace teaches us a new way of living. I had a pastor who used to say, “I can drink (or whatever, you fill in the blank) as much as I want to. I just don’t want to.” That’s the finished work of grace. We’re in a re-education process not a pixie-dust factory where “a little dab will do ya” and presto, instant transformation. There are those times when we experience an immediate radical change but more often we find ourselves back in school for a refresher course. Grace leads us to the place where we can do whatever we want to, we just don’t want to do it anymore. What a relief!
         The ability to “do all things though Christ, which strengthens me” Philippians 4:13 comes in steps. Grace empowers us to do what we normally wouldn’t or couldn’t do because our desires now are aligned with God’s. This portion of our education will last for the rest of our lives. Get out your paper and pencils boys and girls. School’s in session now!

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