David and Lisa Fraze joined our church family yesterday and gave us some important food for thought. David spoke to the men of our congregation on the importance of living holy and pure lives in light of our faith in Christ. From what I've heard from the ladies in attendance, Lisa's presentation was also very well received.
David made an excellent point when he reminded us that every sin we've committed after our baptism into Christ has been a conscious choice on our part to choose our own selfish and sinful desires over/against the will of God and the direction of the Holy Spirit. I wholeheartedly agree with David, as I imagine, most, if not all of the more than 200 men in attendance do as well. Do we struggle sometimes? Yes. Are we sometimes weak due to any number of circumstances? Yes. But is our sin ultimately due to our own fault and failure, as opposed to others or the difficult circumstances we face? Most certainly, yes. David was also quick to point out that through God's grace, we are free to start again. To quote Rend Collective, "countless second chances we've been given at the cross."
Towards the end of his presentation, David played a video clip of a middle aged man attending Kindergarten, for probably the 40th time in his life. The video was both absurd and funny. But how absurd it is for us to consistently remain "Kindergarten" students in our faith. How very unfunny it is for us to indulge rather than die to ourselves. It is both absurd and sad for us to simply stumble over the cross, rather than pick it up and get on with the task of following Jesus. I've been guilty of doing these very things at different points along life's path, but I really don't want to do them anymore. I want more! I want to do the hard work of losing my life so that I might find it fully and abundantly in Christ alone!
David's message wasn't a "works based" message, but a message of mercy, grace, and forgiveness. It was a message that reminded us all that God loves us more than we could ever imagine. But it was a message that also reminded us that we need to take the gospel seriously and allow God's Holy Spirit to transform every aspect of our lives from the inside out. The gospel doesn't just provide forgiveness for our sins, it also equips us to overcome our sins - to be free from our sins. The gospel gives us the freedom to start again. The good news of Jesus Christ will first make a difference in all of our own personal lives if it is ever going to make a difference in the world around us. If I'm going to experience God's coming Kingdom and his will being done on earth, as it is in heaven, then I must allow God to work in my own heart and mind along the way. Father, give us all the grace to say no to our own selfish desires and to say yes to your gracious work in our lives. - Shay