GRACE AND PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
God’s Amazing Plan For Change
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 of the 59 paragraphs in the essay explores a dimension of assumptions regarding Christianity and recovery/change. This is paragraph #12:
Notice how God wants you to approach His Perfection in Romans 7:4-6: "So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve a new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code." He does not want you to be bound and weighted down with rules for perfection, but rather to be drawn into His Perfection through His Spirit. Do you have trouble releasing your "white knuckles" of perfectionism, so that His Spirit can transform you into His Perfection?
(Stop and Reflect)
In the 1960’s the Peace Corp had a question about whether the glass is half full or half empty. Those who saw it half full were suited for the Corp, because they were looking toward possibility rather than focusing on what was missing. As you experience how you see yourself right now, as a person and as a new creation in Christ, what do you notice about your perspective? Are you noticing all the many ways you are currently falling short? Are you not thinking about it at all, thus "choosing" old nature patterns by default? Are you feeling good about the growth you see in your life, accepting that it is an imperfect process of becoming. Are you looking forward to many wonderful adventures with the Lord as you continue relaxing into "becoming" in Him, knowing you will never "arrive?" As you look at yourself, are you half full or half empty in your eyes? There is a reason we open each CAIRing Grace Group meeting with the prayer:
"Dear Lord Jesus, Allow us to see ourselves and others through your eyes, and respond to what we see through Your Nature." God’s Plan wants you to use His Eyes and His Nature through His Spirit. Through His Way it becomes possible!
When Paul says "you also died to the law through the body of Christ", I believe he is reflecting that our identity based on our old nature died and now we are free to live in Christ as a new creation, with a new identity in Him. He is telling us that "we have been released from the law so that we serve a new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code." Jesus becomes our "mirror" through which we are learning to see ourselves with greater accuracy as we travel with Him through our lives. He wants to share our hills and valleys with us, not stand around judging all the ways we fall short in our lives. The Lord knows "the sinful passions aroused by the law" prevent healthy growth and change. The more demanding we become in our quest for perfection, the more resistance we experience inside, and the more we are rejecting God’s Plan. How sad to reject His Plan, in order to try to be good enough to earn His free gift of Grace. Imagine how sad Jesus must feel, to be used as a burden/weight, when He suffered so greatly to be able to help carry our burdens through us. Do you recognize this pattern in your life? Does Jesus currently feel more like a burden than a relief? Notice what happens when you begin to see Him accurately and embrace His Plan for your life.
When you look into Jesus as your "mirror", what do you see? Does it feel strange to begin seeing yourself through His Reflection? Share with Him what you are experiencing in this exercise, He wants to share with you. Remember that practice allows unfamiliar things to become more natural over time. Give Him a chance to Love you. Remember that Jesus wants us to have the chance to "in order that we might bear fruit to God."