Saturday, April 16, 2011

When All the Ducks are in a Row

I read this wonderful post by Jasmine Baucham on Ladies Against Feminism last week.  It addresses something we Christians don't think about very often.

Enjoy!

Once upon a time, there were two women attending a conference.
After one of the sessions, the speaker called all of the women in attendance to bow their heads and pray. One of the women bowed her covered head, lowered her unpainted eyes, and clasped her work-worn hands in front of her:
“God, I thank you that I am not like other women, who pursued college educations, worked outside of their homes, delayed marriage or children, and walk around in power suits instead of floral dresses. I homeschool my children. I submit to my husband. I go to a family integrated church every week.”
Sound familiar?
It’s a version of one of my favorite passages of Scripture, and, yes, I took a bit of creative license. It’s much better this way:
“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ {Luke 18:10-12}

Here’s what I’m learning:

It’s so easy to sound like that Pharisee.

It’s so easy to feel like that Pharisee.

This article is for you, fellow Pharisee. You know who you are.

There is a reason why I live my life the way that I do. There is a reason why I am a homeschool advocate, why I live at home with my family, why I make it a point to embrace and promote biblical femininity, why I have chosen to walk the path that I have…

I want to bring glory to God in my every decision. I want to take every thought and action captive for his glory (2 Corinthians 10:5).

None of the things that Pharisee mentioned were necessarily bad things. In fact, they were very right and good things. But that Pharisee wasn’t thinking about God’s glory, and, so many times, neither am I. I’m thinking. “Whew! Thank goodness I’m not out there in the rat race like those girls.” “Thank goodness I’m not wrapped up in a bad relationship likethat woman.” “Thank goodness I am not like other men…”

What I’m learning lately is not that the decisions we make are not important. They are. But I’m learning that they mean nothing when they are not offered up to the Lord as humbly as the prayer of that second man:
But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ {Luke 18:13}
If our convictions do not flow from a heart that realizes daily that it is only by God’s grace that we evendesire to please him… if the choices we make come from a prideful need to exalt ourselves above others… if we cannot reach out to others with the glorious news of the gospel because we somehow feel they are beneath us… if our gospel begins to include steps that will make the hearers look more like us than like Christ…

In essence our righteousness does not exceed those empty works of the Pharisee (Matthew 5:20), and unless our hope is solely in the righteousness of Christ Jesus (Romans 3:20, 1 John 2:2)…

We are no longer walking in grace. We are offering filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). We are loveless, whitewashed tombs (Matthew 23:27, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

And we are not blessed, as that second man:
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. {Luke 18:14}
The good news? Well, the good news is the Good News.

We all fall woefully short in this area. The answer is neither to try to walk by the letter of the law, trusting in our own righteousness to save us… nor is it to cast aside all morals in a hedonistic free-for-all.

The answer is to proclaim and apply the gospel that quickens dead hearts and transforms lives instead of the behavior modification that turns virtue into an idol and whitewashes open tombs.

The answer is to lean on the finished work of Jesus Christ, and not on our own exertions. 

The answer is in our motive. Because all of the trappings of biblical womanhood are meaningless when the woman claiming to believe in “biblical” womanhood is more concerned with her own glory than that of the Author of the Word. A heart satisfied in Christ and fully applied to following him? That’s the goal.

Oh, what a sigh of relief, and, oh, what a balm for the soul! Oh, what sweet, sweet rest we find when our joy and purpose comes from seeking Christ and his will for our lives, and sharing our love for him with others… and nothing else.

Because what else do we really need?



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