Monday, September 28, 2009

Checklists or Dance? - Gabriel Clark

Introduction by: Milfred Minatrea

Let me introduce you to a new friend, Gabriel Clark. Gabriel is a Sophomore at Purdue where he is studying Chemical Engineering. He enjoys theology and learning new things. He ran cross country in high school and at some point wants to run a marathon. After college he would like to be involved in ministry with Campus Crusade for Christ, a non-denominational student ministry. I was blessed by Gabe's thoughts about the Dance!

Americans are busy: Plain and simple. Take an honest look at your daily schedule and you will know exactly what I mean. For students it looks a lot like this: Wake up. Go to classes for the day. Eat. Do Homework. Read that assignment from last week that you have been putting off. Eat. Go to your fourth call-out for the week. Do more homework. Go to bed. Repeat.

If you are a parent subtract classes and add 40+ hours of work, then multiply by your children's schedule. We are weighed down by duties, responsibilities, and over-commitment. Just thinking about all of that can make your chest tighten up with stress. I don't know about you but I know one way that I stay sane in this madness called Life is that I tend to compartmentalize everything. School goes here, friends go here, extra-curriculars go here, and God goes there. Good, we're all set, everything is in its place and nothing is out of line.

The problem is, God is too big for a compartment. He doesn't call me to be His follower when I can fit it in. I feel like often times I treat God exactly how I treat my agenda. When I am done with something "Godly" I check it off my list. Mention Jesus to someone; Check. Pray before my meal so people can see me; Check. (This is embarrassing to admit but if my heart is in compartment-mode and not in full reverence of God this is what my flesh will gravitate towards.) Open up the bible and read a chapter from Romans; Check.

The thing I have come to understand and love about Christ is that He deeply wants to be in constant fellowship with me. He wants to be a friend! Often times I find it a lot easier to understand things about God if I can make a real-world connection with people. So I think, "How would my friends feel if I constantly treated them as a checklist; if I spent time with them or spoke with them out only of an obligation?"

I think that they would get the picture pretty quickly. That kind of relationship is not one that they would value. It reminds me of the scene from Remember the Titans where the football players were required to get to know a teammate of the other color. One white player tells a black player that he just wanted to get this over with and needed the name of his father, where he is from, and some other miscellaneous information. The black player was offended and wouldn't tell the white player because he knew that it was not out of a sincere heart. It was out of obligation and that never makes a person feel loved. So project that onto Christ...

When I get into "robot" mode I am living according to the Law. I am fulfilling a set of standards so I can earn my righteousness. But you see I will never be able to follow God's perfect Law therefore I am justly deemed unrighteous and punishable. I am now weighed with a debt that I can only pay with my blood. But here is the beautiful thing; The Law only applies to the living! What wonderful news!

Now, you may be thinking, "Gabe, you may have missed something there... You are still alive." But I tell you I am not! I was crucified with Christ therefore I no longer live but Christ now lives in me! I am dead to the Law and the (spiritual) death that comes along with that. I am now filled with the Spirit of the Great I Am. And where the Spirit of the Lord is there is Freedom: Freedom to know Him deeply, to be ourselves, and to be broken and contrite. After all, a spirit that is broken and contrite is an offering that is pleasing to God.

When we give ourselves to Christ as a sacrifice, when we crucify our flesh and our sinful nature, it allows us transcend past the Law and move into the Liberation of the Holy Spirit. Only in this are we truly free to slow dance with Jesus, in sweet harmony, as He sings out the song of our Life. Under the Law we are stiff and calloused trying to follow the beat by tapping our feet as we are chained to our debt and our checklist. When we die to that we are free to breathe and sway and be graceful to the tune.

So what do I do with this? I long to feel the embrace of Christ as He and I walk in step and move in time, however I am preoccupied with the tempo of the society in which I live. My flesh wants the checklist but my soul needs the Dance. Jesus paid much too high a price for me to simply check Him off a list. He gave the greatest sacrifice to win His bride. I can only honor that in one way, and that is to fully give Him my heart. I need to not allow my studies or my duties to overshadow His love. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.

I need to put God first in my heart and in my life and everything else will fall into place. I feel that the only way I will be able to take God out of the compartment I have put Him in is to really think about how much He loves me. If I can truly grasp His love and his desire for me I don't think there is any way that I cannot allow Him to have free reign in my heart and my life. I don't want to live under the Law... I want to live under Love.

Thanks for Reading.

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