Thursday, January 30, 2014

Justified



            I am a firm believer in making daily affirmations of truth based upon what God has done for us in Christ.  The Christian doctrine of justification means that God has justified us and made us right with him and all creation through the cross of Jesus.  This is not only a doctrine to believe, but a reality to be lived into each and every day for the follower of Christ.

            Because I am a pastor, I occasionally get the person who comes into my office and does not like the way I do ministry, or is upset about Sunday’s sermon, or thinks I should be doing something I am not doing.  My initial gut reaction is to want to justify myself – to defend my ministry and my life.  Such encounters can easily leave me feeling insecure, like a vulnerable teenager trying to look cool in the middle of his awkwardness.  I even once had a person complain to me that on a particular Sunday my shoes were not shined well enough.  For a person like me who is borderline obsessive-compulsive, that was not an easy mental slough-off; I really wanted to beat myself up over the lack of shiny shoes!

            Yet, the truth of the Christian life is that I have no need to justify myself because God has already done it in Christ.  Here are some regular affirmations we can tell ourselves in order to let Christ’s righteousness sink deep down into our souls:

1         I thankfully accept who I am in my unchangeable physical appearance which God has uniquely designed for me so that Jesus can bring a special view to others through my life (Psalm 139:13-18; 2 Corinthians 10:12, 12:9-10).

2          I thankfully acknowledge that I am unconditionally loved and treasured by God who wanted a relationship with me and to whom I now belong forever (Romans 8:31-32, 38-39; John 6:44, 17:23).

3          I thankfully acknowledge that I am unconditionally accepted as a worthy person to God because of Jesus Christ in whom I trust for all things (Ephesians 1:16; Romans 4:6-8; Isaiah 61:10).

4          I thankfully acknowledge that I am a secure person because my heavenly Father cares about me and asks me to trust His leadership and goodness (Romans 8:28; Matthew 6:25-33; Proverbs 3:5-6; Psalm 37:3-7, 23).

5          I thankfully acknowledge that I am in a process of growth.  I have a sinful nature that is part of my personality but that is not who I am.  I consider myself dead to the sinful nature and alive and responsive to God instead.  I am not yet what I will be someday, but I am not what I used to be either.  I accept my struggles with sin as opportunities to depend more on God and on Christ’s justification for me (1 Peter 2:1-3; Romans 6:11; 2 Corinthians 10:13; Galatians 5:16).

6          I thankfully acknowledge that I am a competent person who is adequate to fulfill God’s will successfully each day.  My strength is supplied by God’s Holy Spirit who works through me to make an important and eternal impact on others with the love of God and the message of Christ (Philippians 2:13, 4:13; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Peter 4:10-11; 2 Corinthians 5:20).

We all as Christians need to think the thought that we are secure in being loved by God, accepted and cared for by Him, and that we have important lives to live for Him.  Therefore, we are not threatened or devastated by the way some people treat us.  They do not determine our self-worth.  We might be pained when others let us down, but it is not the end of the world.  We can continue to act responsibly toward them as Christians without demanding that they understand us, accept us, or respect us.  It would be great if they did, but not devastating if they do not, since what really counts is God’s love and acceptance of us.

Many if not most people try to find acceptance and significance through parents, siblings, peers, church, achievements, appearance, work, etc.  Yet, none of those sources can satisfy or fulfill our basic personal needs.  This is why there are so many people who walk around feeling resentment, anxiety, guilt, a vague sense of emptiness and even despair.



But when a person trusts in Jesus Christ as the only true source of justification to satisfy all of the most basic of personal needs we have as people, that person can learn to regard herself in her new identity with Christ.  Her faith can be trained to believe in and focus on her new self-concept even in circumstances when she feels the pain of rejection.  She can rebound from disappointment.  She can forgive others and continue to minister and serve without dependence upon positive feedback from another.


To be justified by Christ means that we can live in the security of being a child of God without depending on others to do for us what God has already done through Jesus.  Learning to live in this way takes daily affirmations of faith and truth.  May we all tell ourselves the truth daily, and so glorify God and build up the church.

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