Pollution has become this city's worst allergy. The smoke and haze hovers over the mountains and seeps down in through our windows and makes my eyes itch. Today a bit of relief came in an afternoon rain. I'm still reveling in the lingering smell of it. Deep breaths are always best in the case of a good afternoon rain, so that's what I'm doing tonight.
I'm revisiting Francis Schaeffer's "True Spirituality" and, apart from my previous pencil marks, I could be reading it for the first time. The honesty is so fresh. I don't mean fresh in a so-hip-and-cool-and-slightly-ambiguous way. I mean fresh like BAM! it hits you in the face. He doesn't mess around because he truly adores the subject of his honest grappling. I wish I could say I don't miss a beat of his rhythm, but I definitely have to read whole paragraphs over sometimes to get the full weight of it.
The funny thing is... the words Schaeffer penned in 1971 are desperately needed today in the conversation of theology and doxology and, well, the art of living. Before you even flip the page of the first chapter, you read,
"Our true guilt, that brazen heaven which stands between us and God, can be removed only upon the basis of the finished work of Christ plus nothing on our part. The Bible's whole emphasis is that there must be no humanistic note added at any point in the accepting of the gospel. It is the infinite value of the finished work of Christ, the second person of the Trinity, upon the cross plus nothing that is the sole basis for the removal of our guilt."
This whole plus nothing idea has always and forever will be a humbling thing for me. I have tried to make Jesus need something from me. I want to bring something before Him and hear, "Oh, yes! That is what the cross was missing! Thank you so much!" But, it's not possible. Strange that hearing those words would mean my God is small and helpless and needy.
I wrote about a lesson in dependence while I lived in Austin... and then several months later when I realized dependence isn't a lesson and God truly desired that I would come to Him empty handed. Salvation is Christ plus nothing. If I present anything else, I present a bold-faced lie.
In my journey of learning to believe Christ as truly sufficient, I discovered a beautiful freedom. When I say freedom, it's hard to describe just how giddy it makes me feel.
Have you ever felt the random rush to dance? Or uncontrollable laughter bubbling up from your gut? Or maybe you have stretched out your arms as far as they could possibly go and lifted your face toward heaven to take in some crazy rays.
I desperately hope you have a picture of the kinds of things freedom brings to mind. When I truly let the reality of Christ plus nothing sink in, the excitement of freedom all but bursts out of me!
Today, with Songs of Lent as a musical backdrop, I studied the words of Isaiah 53. I wrote out every phrase and let it sink in like the rain. This description of Christ tugs at all the foolish places I hide - the places I believe my salvation is plus something. Then I listened to this message from Mbewe and turned my focus to verse 11, "out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied." After enduring the suffering of the cross, even anguishing in His sinless soul, Christ saw and was satisfied in what He accomplished. The glorious work of the cross is truly finished and I am numbered among the many whose iniquities he bore.
It's starting to rain again.
Let LOVE fly like cRaZy, folks, but remember the LOVE of Christ needs no addition of our own making.