I'm short on time (again) this week, so I am pre-blogging my Wednesday entry in the hopes of getting it out there for your edification, and so that I can work 12 hours on Wednesday and hopefully get my desk cleared off so I can go on vacation.
Here's the thing: yesterday, Dan had a great post in which there was this bit:
And then I saw Romans 15:13 — "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." God gives joy and peace. Thank God. How does He give joy and peace? In believing. But wait — I'll believe when I feel joy and peace! That will tell me I'm really a child, an elect child of God!Right? Amen?
"No," Paul would say to me, to you: "you have it backwards. You don't get joy and peace, and then believe. Believe, and then you will know joy and peace."
In which Dan rightly intended for you, the smoldering wick, the bruised reed, to take refuge. How you "feel" should be about knowing Christ is the one who gives you what you need, not in how you have given what you need to give.
And many people needed to hear that. I needed to hear that. Inside my personal echo chamber, the me I see in there is the me who doesn't do what he ought, and does what he ought not to do, and who can save me from this wretched state? Praise be to God: it's the Lord Jesus Christ.
And I can see me that way. You can see you that way.
But the real trick in the Christian life is to see others that way. That is: just as you are Christ's in spite of your pitiable state, the other believers you encounter are Christ's in spite of their pitiable state. Maybe they work too much. Maybe -- though of course this can't be true in Reformed circles -- they are social misfits. Maybe they are essentially emotionally blank. Maybe they have never thought about a stranger's impressions of their actions.
Maybe they are just tired and they don't have the energy for you. You are a burden, you have to admit, even after a good night's sleep.
So that refuge in which we can rejoice in Christ for our own personal sake, and escape the real and right fear of our sins in Christ -- it's actually bigger than us. It's bigger than one person.
Paul said it this way:
But now in Christ Jesus you-all who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.See: it's somewhat basic to say, "Christ died for me." It's probably the most basic thing you have to get to start this discussion. But Christ didn't die for "me" -- He died for "US".
And he came and preached peace to you-all who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you-all are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you-all also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. [Eph 2]
If there's a refuge against the dark shadow of doubt in Christ for you personally, it should be greater than just you personally. It should be the place where you overcome the smallness of you and get joined together in the holy temple of our God -- which is not a building, but a body and family.
The joy for you is all our joy. You should come and see it with us -- in spite of us, and because of Christ.