Sunday, June 14, 2009

Clothed in Righteousness

I haven't really been feeling very eloquent recently - particularly in my thoughts regarding faith - however something really struck me in this mornings meeting and I really wanted to blog about it so here goes.

The first song we sang this morning was 'And Can it Be?' After singing it we spent a few minutes just looking back over the words we had just sung. To be honest - I usually do that anyway - or at least think about them an awful lot while I am singing them, so I had already done this. When Ann asked us which line or phrase had particulalry struck us I knew mine straight away. The words to the last verse are below; my phrase is picked out in green:

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Clothed in righteousness. Why did it strike me? Well to be honest I feel kind of dirty and dressed, well, not in rags, but maybe scruffy jeans and a baggy jumper. You know - the kind you wear on a sofa night when you want to hide from the world and certainly don't want anyone to have to see you dressed like that. Trying to picture yourself standing before the King of King's clothed in righteousness and claiming the crown is hard to do when you know you're such a mess.

The Bible reading for today was Colossians 1:15-23. I have read these verses many times before, and they have always felt important, and I have always understood what they meant and agreed with them. But today they were made alive for me. In the light of what I have just said, take a look at this (from verse 20b):

He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ's blood on the cross. This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has bought you into his own presence and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don't drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. (NLT)

Once again the poingnant bits for me are picked out in green. Ok - so this is nothing new - no new wisdom is being envoked here, but I wanted to extract some thoughts from my own mind. Being a realist and having a very practical mindset I can't cope very well with concepts I can't apply directly to life. So I always immediatly look for how scripture or sermons or books or songs etc affect my life. Today, to do that, I had to try to picture myself standing before God and being called holy, blameless and without fault. That is so hard to do, and to be honest - it made me feel a bit sick. It frustrates me a bit because that should be a joy to read. It should make me smile and laugh and be filled with contentment, but all I feel is sick and bedraggled and useless. I have questionned myself time and time again as to why this might be, and the best answer I have come up with so far is simply because I want to deserve it. I know I never can...but...

Don't get me wrong. I am so grateful to Jesus for what He has done and for what that means for me eternally, I guess I just feel unworthy of that grace - but more than that, unworthy of living up to the response that I know that should provoke in me. If God has done something so amazing for me - surely my response of faith and love (that spring from the hope I have received - Colossians 1:4-5) would be to all out live for God, holding nothing back -sacrificing my all to live for Him and to please Him in all I do. Despite my own desires and my own agenda. Why do I feel unworthy of living that life? Honestly - because I know the truth of Colossians - I believe in it, and yet, giving up my own dreams, my own desires and my own selfish hopes, still makes me feel lonely, sad, dissapointed and yes, a little bit resentful.

I once wrote this:

'hearing that God is closer than you think is not always the comforting message it ought to be. It is in fact a bulldozer that shatters an otherwise quite comfortable view of God being distant and un-involved in our individual lives.' (See here for context)

Maybe that sounds like a terrible thing to say, but honestly - I think it is so often true - certainly for me. Sometimes God's truth hits you in the face like a ton of bricks, and whilst its great news - its also shattering at the same time.