GRACE AND PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

God’s Amazing Plan For Change
Weekly Reflections

    The following paragraph is from the essay "Grace And Personal Responsibility – God’s Amazing Plan For Change" written by James O. Henman, Ph.D. It is followed by some thoughts to consider after reading the paragraph. Dr. Henman has had the opportunity to spend the past 28 years as a psychologist, intimately involved in the process of change in the lives of his clients. He noticed the obstacles that prevented people from making healthy choices. Over the years he began to recognize patterns of these obstacles, and particularly what prevented Christian clients from accessing God’s power for healing. People were often unable to see accurately the underlying assumptions they were making in important areas of their lives. Each paragraph in the essay explores a dimension of assumptions regarding Christianity and recovery/change. This is paragraph #10:

"I believe that fear has done great harm in the Christian family. Examples of fearful presuppositions are: trying to earn God’s free gift ("As I am in the present, I am not good enough to approach Him"), misunderstanding self-esteem, and not seeing Jesus as our loving "big brother." God does not save us because we are worth saving, but rather because of His Nature. It is His love for us, in our imperfection, that caused Him to reach out to us, in our flawed state, with His Grace. When we accept the presupposition that Salvation is about our nature, rather than His Nature, fear and perfectionism make perfect sense. The truth is that Salvation is about His Nature. "We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us." (1Corinthians 2:12) The result of this truth for us is grateful humility. (Stop and Reflect)"

When you reflect on your Christianity, do you feel a lot of fear and insecurity for how far short you come, compared to His Perfection? Do you tend to experience a lot of tension from trying so hard to be good enough for Him? What do you notice when you realize that your goodness has nothing to do with your relationship with Jesus? Your relationship with Him, as is true of all of us, is only made possible by His Perfect Love. The Lords willingness to take on our sins bridges our imperfection with God’s Perfection, when we are willing to let Him do so. He will not force us to let Him stand in for us, He will allow us to stand in for ourselves (in our flawed, imperfect nature), even though He knows the cost of such a choice. Do you want Him to stand in for you, or are you demanding to stand in for yourself?

The more you rigidly demand perfection of yourself, applying your "will" to being good enough for Christ, the less the Holy Spirit can guide and work through you. The very thing that makes recovery/sanctification possible, becomes less available because of your demands of perfection. The Spirit is relationship not fear! Notice how different it feels to relax into His Love right where you are starting in the present. We supply the desire and willingness for Him to work through us. Our job is to remember our true identity is in Christ, no matter how badly we may be feeling or doing at any given moment. What would it cost you to try it His Way? Notice how your feelings of grateful humility for His Loving gift naturally draws you toward Him, transforming you a layer at a time as His new creation.