Do I love God’s law? Do I delight in the law of the Lord after the inward man, not wishing it less strict and holy, but loving it because it is holy? Am I as willing to take Christ for my King to rule over me, as for my Priest to atone for me? Do I hunger and thirst after righteousness? Do I pant and long and pray to be holy? Do I wish to be holy, as I wish to be happy? Do I hate all sin, especially that sin which most easily besets me, and labor daily to mortify it and to deny myself? Do I sigh for complete deliverance from remaining corruption, and rejoice in the hope of it, through a holy Jesus? Do I long for heaven, that there I may be satisfied with his likeness?
~George Burder (1752-1832)
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins. It was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
~ paul, The Least of The Apostles, in Romans 3
Oh beloved, it is true.
We have always been fighting against the truth too. All the way from the beginning of our fall; in that moment where Adam began to think that it really would be better if he did life on his own…
“Oh,” he said, “of course God is important. He needs to be a priority in my life. But, it is just a little too crazy to think that I should surrender all of who I am to this Father who comes and visits me in the garden all the time. Sure, He made me. But, He has already given me so much. I have already learned everything that I need from Him. Plus, it seems like He is withholding information from me regarding this tree. If He won’t let me eat a simple piece of fruit, what else is He hiding from me?!?! Yeah, time for me to assert my authority a little bit here. This Guy is getting a little too overbearing.”
Of course, our ancestor Adam made a mess of things. He was not thrown out of the garden for a simple act of ignorant disobedience. No, he had already left the garden. The door closed because their Father wanted to protect them from a more terrible prospect: Immortality absent of Love.
And, all along and down through human history, we have kept at this hubris. We have continued to think and believe two very powerful lies.
1) G_d is important, but He should be kept at some distance.
2) We know we are too far away from Him, but we can work our way back to the edge of the fire – just close enough to keep warm.
A contemporary of Augustine was a heretic. His name was Pelagius. His words show us the way that seems right to a man:
We contradict the Lord to his face when we say: It is hard, it is difficult; we cannot, we are men; we are encompassed with fragile flesh. O blind madness! O unholy audacity! We charge the God of all knowledge with a twofold ignorance, that he does not seem to know what he has made nor what he has commanded, as though, forgetting the human weakness of which he is himself the author, he imposed laws upon man which he cannot endure.
Pelagius (c. 354-after 418)
In other words, Pelagius is saying: “we can do this on our own.”
Can we see it?
This has always been the problem. Our sin is not simply in breaking some rule. Our sin is that we think we can make the rules. Our sin is believing that we know the best way, and the best position to take in terms or our relationship to G_d.
And, in this foolish fit of foolishness called our self-will, we too walk further and further away from the garden of His Presence. In pours the isolation, pain, fear, doubt, anger, and lust. Our heart is weighed down so heavily. It is like a stone in our chest. We, like Adam, have walked away from what we really wanted: to know and be known by G_d.
Beloved, this is why repentance is so needed in our lives. We have been thinking wrongly, and we must utterly change our mind. We have been walking away from Him, and we must do an about-face and call out to Him. However, this is really all we can do.
We must ar-rest our course. We must come to a standstill and call out to The One Who is calling after us. We have tried for so long to do it our way. But now, we see that the only viable option is to let Him have His way.
So, have you been seeing Him through the lens of the lie that His overtaking your life will quash your freedom? It is time to depart from this nothingness, and allow Him to quench every thirst you have been trying to fulfill on your own.
Tonight is your night. Time to realize that you (and this fool of a writer) are not good enough. We never were. But He always was, and is, and will be.
Fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te. (You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.)
~ St. Augustine of Hippo