“David confirms this way of looking at it, saying that the one who trusts God to do the putting-everything-right without insisting on having a say in it is one fortunate man: Fortunate those whose crimes are carted off, whose sins are wiped clean from the slate. Fortunate the person against whom the Lord does not keep score. Do you think for a minute that this blessing is only pronounced over those of us who keep our religious ways and are circumcised? Or do you think it possible that the blessing could be given to those who never even heard of our ways, who were never brought up in the disciplines of God? We all agree, don’t we, that it was by embracing what God did for him that Abraham was declared fit before God?”
Romans 4:6-9 MSG
The parallels between Paul's story and mine are not lost on me. I find it even more interesting that he points out that Abraham—the professed father of salvation for the Jews—didn't have all of their disciplines and religious practices.
I've found developing a relationship with Jesus Christ to be far more challenging than hyper-disciplined rule keeping ever was. And yet, pursuing that relationship has produced the blessings that I was promised as a rule keeper, but never received before. Do I still honor God's law? Absolutely! It is the natural result of the loving relationship I have with God because of what Christ won for me, not because I managed to be good enough, worthy enough, to qualify for His love.
I had to come to Christ as though he was the Lion of Judah—not a tame lion. No cage to keep him comfortably controlled for the sake of my flesh's craving for a predictable God, no leash or muzzle to guard against the raw power inherent in omnipotence.
I had to trust that his nature—Love itself—would be all the protection I would ever need. That I could come before him, heart completely vulnerable, and believe I would be safe. As Lucy said to Aslan: "I'd rather be eaten by you than fed by anyone else."
You can chase righteousness through a thousand intricate trails, but without coming to Christ, learning about him and actually listening to what he has to say to you, personally, you will never, ever find righteousness. You will never find salvation. You must KNOW God, like you know a person. And getting to know someone is an age-old, established ritual. We ask around to learn what the people we love or respect most think or know about that person. If it's a person of note, we read up on them. And we observe who they are in daily interaction, listening to what they say and gauging their character by their behavior.
The same is true for Jesus. We ask others about him. Read his word. Listen for his voice to us, and talk to him.
He knows you already. Sees everything you'd like to think is discreetly hidden. The only thing self protection gets you is isolation from the One who is Love. So come to know him, for he is knowable. Read the things he said, because they will show you who he is. And then trust that you can come to him without being afraid. You can. Because of Jesus Christ.
Father, I pray every heart hungers for your presence, every thirsty soul comes to and drink and eat without money and without price, because that's what your Son, gentle and not puffed up, invites us to do. I pray we will all take you at your Word, in Jesus' name, amen.