I was in chains, I was in bondage to the law. I didn’t know about Grace… I lived in chains
Every generation has a title… I guess my original batch of four is the millennials. They get a bad rap, but so did my generation, Gen X. I haven’t heard if our new additions, who are five and nearly three, that we lovingly refer to as the vandals, have been so branded … yet.
However, I propose they will be generation “Gift Bag.”
This occurred to me on Christmas morning, after weeks of begging to see what was inside each box tied with ribbons and bows, shiny paper and decorative name tags.
They don’t know how to unwrap presents.
This year I skipped the gift bag monotony and wrapped the majority of our presents in thick, shiny, metallic paper. I secured enormous handmade bows, ornaments, and curly ribbons to each package. I had just as much fun preparing each gift as I did purchase the treasures for what was an enormous brood of “children.”
Eight to be exact, with our baby foster love and my daughter’s fiancé joining our traditional Christmas morning, we had an extended gift giving/receiving marathon.
The collective laughter came each time one of the vandals turn arrived and they were handed a gift box to open.
And each time they brought it to me.
I would start by encouraging them, “tear the paper…”
“Pull off the bow…”
“Just rip into it…”
And each time they looked utterly mystified.
Fair enough, Christmas is confusing. For the better part of a month I have threatened them, “DO NOT TOUCH THAT!” and now… “DESTROY IT.” Equally confusing, “Don’t talk to strangers!”
But now, “Go sit in the fat man’s lap and tell him all your hopes and dreams. I’ll take your picture.”
However, given a gift bag with a wisp of tissue paper, the vandals knew exactly what to do.
This has been me with the gift of grace.
Jesus died so that I could walk in the freedom of redemption. Yet I have barely torn through the surface of the message. I may have tugged a corner to get a glimpse, but I have not ravaged through to see the entirety of the treasure.
Handed the gift of grace in an easy to accept message, “Jesus died, now here is what you must do to complete the work…” is my gift bag model of the salvation message. Like the vandals, I know what to do with that. I have seen it my entire life. But of course, it is a present, I remove the tissue and I follow the rules. One of my favorite grace teachers, Andrew Farley calls it the buffet line of law. A little bit of Moses and a little bit of Jesus.
Certainly, I cannot just tear into the glorious gift of Jesus plus… nothing?
But this is what I have known. Follow the rules to complete the work of the Cross.
Grace in chains.
Half way into the gift giving the vandals finally became privy to the concept of wrapping paper and the joy of uncovering the treasures inside. They were anxious to help everyone else expose what was beneath the impressive packaging.
Why would God give us such a grand gift, freedom from the law? It is indeed baffling. And yes, I am receiving your emails, but no… free from the law I am not willfully on a chaotic sin binge. Once I believed in the inheritance of my righteousness, a “DNA swap” occurred. God’s law was written on my heart.
Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.
Jesus plus nothing.
So, I am up at 3:00 am to write this to you who are slave to the law and I implore you, “tear the paper…”
“Pull off the bow…”
“Just rip into it…”
If you believe you must do anything to perfect the work of the cross, Grace is in chains. There is no fast, no prayer vigil, no sacrifice that can increase the covenant God made with Himself when Jesus died for us. I have worked tirelessly to impress Him when all He sees in me is blameless. And when I stopped the façade and joined in the feast I heard most clearly His voice; a voice that hums “Mercy my love.”
And the other voice… disappeared. It tries to work its way back in, but I cast the nastiness to the foot of the cross. The voice of truth is a glorious song of freedom from works, joy in obedience.
The blood worked.
Grace is the consequence.
Eternity is the prize.
Go on… tear into it.
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:34-36
May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Jami
You might also like: Do not Taste
Check out my friend Kelly Balarie’s new book: FEAR FIGHTING!
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