Common Ground

You and I have something in common. Something important.

Whether you are religious, secular, agnostic, sanguine or choleric.  Whether you are an INFJ like me, or an EPBandJ like my daughter Sarah (inside joke).  Whether you drink Jack Daniel's or Diet Coke, you and me have a long history of the same thing.

Whether I know you very well, or I don't know you at all. Maybe I thought I knew you, once upon a time.  Whether we love each other or we tolerate each other, whether you like me or you don't, whether you respect me, or think I am an unsophisticated Southern fanatic - or an idiot. No matter. We share a vital connection that binds us together.

You and me? We are hell-bent on our own way.

We have all, without exception, gone off the path of righteousness, like confused sheep. We have, each one of us, insisted on our own way. That is the only sin there is, really. But what that sin looks like might surprise you.

Because, when that first man fell and failed in the Garden, it was about perceived good as much as it was about evil. Mostly, the fall was about first Adam's own way.

My "own way" looked religious and socially acceptable for many years, but it was still my own way.  It was still my own interpretation, my own understanding, my own opinion. It took a long time for me to figure out that His ways in actually...are not my ways.

Your own way might look sophisticated or Southern Redneck. Your own way might be educated...or not. Your own way might be generous or parsimonious, fastidious or scandalous.

But you and me, we are bent on our own thing. Whether you are a Pharisee like me, or a prodigal whose Father yearns after her, you and me have much more in common than we realize:  the iniquity of our own way.

The Hebrew root word for "iniquity" means to be "bent", and we are certainly that. We are bent towards having our needs met by means of two sins:  1)  our own efforts towards being as good as God (keeping the law), or 2)  our own efforts towards all that is less than God, and therefore less than good (breaking the law).

I am here to tell you that all your works of righteousness, all your self generated virtue, all your effort to keep the law, has been already forgiven!  "What?!" you might say.  Yes...I said your efforts to keep the law have been forgiven.

{Only Christ is righteous. Without His righteousness, and only His, being imputed to you entirely, you are wicked. And when the wicked so much as plows, it is a sin. (Proverbs 21:4) No righteousness other than Christ's is accepted - if you even try, the effort is a sin. Anything not of faith is sin.}

Now for the easy part - this is the no-brainer: I am also here to tell you that all your moral failings have also been already forgiven! It is far easier to sense, and we instinctively understand, that our moral failings need atoning and forgiveness.  That forgiveness is found in Christ alone.  Your confession of need, and belief in His supply is the essence of salvation.  He paid the penalty for all your sin, past, present, and future.

Either way, Pharisee or Prodigal, you and I are forgiven our born-attachment to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. If we so choose, we can be severed from it, and grafted into the tree that is root-holy - and wholly other - than anything humanly generated, good or bad.

Once you are grafted into the Tree of Life, your choices become not so much an issue of Good vs. Evil. Your choices become an issue of...fruit. Your life becomes more and more a fruit-bearing manifestation of God who simply is All-Righteous, and less and less a manifestation of self imposed behavior modification.

The Christian life is far more than receiving Christ as Lord and Savior, followed by a lifetime of law-consciousness.  Life is so much more than doing the best we can to follow Him, and then trying even harder to ensure that our children follow Him. If this has been your understanding, you are likely bored and lonely, over or under achieving, a bit depressed, and a lot critical.

But oh, if you could just hear me!  If you could just hear, if you have the ears to hear. Life is less about our own way, i.e. our own performance of good or evil. Life is less about whether our children take of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge that we've only ever offered them!

Life is more about scandalous, all-surpassing grace that scoops us up, both we and our children, and seats us in heavenly places. Life in the Kingdom is all about a righteousness not our own, and peace and joy heaped on top of that. It is grace upon grace.

We are all guilty of being bent towards our own way - that is the default mode of every human being, whether our default is towards doing good (keeping the law) or doing evil (breaking the law). The Lord has laid on Christ the iniquity of you and me.

We have such common ground. Pharisee...prodigal...or in between.  It would greatly glorify the Lord if the church could lay aside the petty differences and walk it together.

"For God made Christ to be sin for us, though He knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."

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