Self Effort or Salvation by Faith?

Whoa whoa whoa.. Two posts.. One weekend.. Noooot allowed! =) =P

Well, if you’ve read my previous post, you’re probably hoping this one will go better. It will.. Promise.

Michael’s sermon this morning really hit home. It was all about integrity.. This was something I desperately needed to hear. Funny, because it’s been something I’ve struggled with for a few weeks now. Character is who you are around other people. I can tell you that I have pretty good character.. but integrity is who you are when it’s you and God with no one else around. My integrity since the beginning of October hasn’t been the highest. Whenever I get busy, I seem to forget the most important things. Even tonight, I’ve caught myself a few times and had to remind myself of the word “integrity” along with my consecration to God (I never blogged about that.. I’ll have to do that soon.. That’s one of those turning points for me). But just a few minutes ago when I sat down at my desk, I saw one of my notecards (I’ve covered the wall behind my desk with notecards of my favorite quotes, sayings, and lessons) and it hit me with what I needed.. Here it is..

Religion by:

Self-Effort

Goal: Please God by our own good deeds.
Means: Practice, diligent service, discipline & obedience in hope of reward.
Power: Good, honest effort through self-determination.
Control: Self-motivation; self control.
Results: Chronic guilt, apathy, depression, failure, constant desire for approval.

Salvation by Faith

Goal: Trust in Christ and live to please God.
Means: Confess, submit and commit yourself to Christ’s control.
Power: The Holy Spirit in us helps us do good work for Christ’s Kingdom.
Control: Christ in me, I in Christ.
Results: Joy, thankfulness, love, guidance, service, forgiveness.

WOW! And.. ouch. Self-effort looks exactly what I know most Christians do, and they think it’s the right way of doing things. And really, it doesn’t look too far off from what we think Christianity to be until we get down to the “Results.” We’ve lived by our own strength, so now we’re rewarded for what WE’VE done.. not for what we’ve allowed Christ to do in us. Jeez. Looking at the other list poses a lot of issues for me. What kind of issues? Control issues. =) I know, we’re all so surprised. =P The thing about this model is, if I do or don’t follow it I’m not the only one who is affected by it. If I’m living based on my own strength, then the burnout will come. It always does. It always HAS… and other people see that. If I’m not modeling what it’s like to TRULY live in Christ Jesus, then what’s the point? I’ve confused younger followers, and quite possibly influenced them to live the same way I am. It’s becoming clearer every day that my actions don’t just affect me.. Even those actions based on, you guessed it, integrity! =) I can think of ten ways certain decisions I’ve made are affecting others around me.

All of this ties into thinking about the lesson Dave did quite a few years ago with the cinderblocks.. I’ve blogged about it.. It was when my block was laid as the cornerstone of his porch.. I thought it was pretty insignificant to put me there.. And then he said, “You’re like the block.. If you aren’t straight, the rest won’t be straight. The plum line is laid, and you have to be aligned FIRST, before the others.. And then they follow.” Ouch. Ouch, ouch, ouch. Guess it puts a new spin on what I’m living my life by.. self-effort or salvation by faith..

Pray on.

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