Wednesday, September 14

Dancing Through a Minefield

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. --Ephesians 1:7-8

One of my colleagues and I frequently discuss matters of faith, philosophy and spirituality. We are always candid and respectful of each other's personal beliefs, even when they vary wildly. On the way to work this morning I was praying that God would give me His words and speak through me if such a conversation took place today. I should have known to be careful what I ask for from God! This morning I had one of the most challenging and rewarding conversations of my Christian life.

It started out as a basic discussion of the practices of the Jewish faith and the differences between the views held by Orthodox and Reformed Judaism. Before long I was defending my personal beliefs and explaining why Jesus had to die. My co-worker said he had always heard the expression that Christ dies for our sins, but he wanted to know what that meant. The challenge before me was this: how could I explain the concept concisely without watering down the truth? How could communicate in a way that pointed to the reality of Christ and the consequences of choosing to reject Him?

By the grace of God, I rose to the challenge. Something told me that a quick run-through of "The Four Spiritual Laws" was not going to provide a satisfactory answer. Since the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, I didn't think that a collection of New Testament verses was going to hold much validity for someone who doesn't believe in the infallibility of the gospel.

I explained the need for Christ's death on the cross, and that His death and resurrection was the once and final sacrifice to make us blameless in the eyes of God. The follow-up question was one that I have often wondered about myself. If Christ's death was a one-time event, don't Christians abuse the privilege of being saved and then continue in their sins? What's the motivation to keep living blamelessly?

The motivation to live a life as blameless as possible comes from the realization of the magnitude of what Jesus' death and resurrection means. Because we have been given the free gift of grace, our lives should exemplify a heart of gratitude and an attitude of humility. Consider the following example:

Suppose I was in need of a heart transplant and was place on the waiting list for a donor. In order for me to be given a new heart and continue to live, someone else must die. Once I have received the new heart, I am expected by doctors to carry on a healthy lifestyle. How preposterous would it be for me to take us smoking once I got a new heart? Or what if I decided to eat bacon, eggs, sausage, hash browns, biscuits and gravy every morning? What if I decided not to take the prescribed anti-rejection medication? Doing so would not be consistent with an attitude that is grateful. Nor is such behavior indicative of appreciation for being given a second chance at life.

This analogy made sense to my co-worker (who also has a tendency to speak metaphorically.) I know that anything I said this morning was purely Christ working through me. Such conversations have the potential to be spiritual minefields, but when I let the Holy Spirit do the work, I'm able to dance through them without blowing apart my own faith of mortally wounding my relationships with those who aren't Christians.

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