Thursday, April 11, 2013

No condemnation

I vividly remember a particular evening years ago where I learned a powerful truth about grace.

I was standing in my room, buttoning up a dress shirt and readying myself to attend a church event to do some networking. I knew only one person at this church (and they weren't a very strong contact), but my network was small and I needed to do something. However, as the minutes ticked away and I needed to be going, I was simply overcome with fear. I couldn't even have verbalized what I was fearing at the time (except that it was probably irrational), but I was certain that I did not want to go!

So I didn't.

I know, I know. The guy who writes the fundraising blog just said he skipped out on a perfectly good networking opportunity. Because he was scared. Because he didn't trust God.

But don't cast the stones yet! I'm not done. My whole reason for sharing this story is to make this point: I am convinced that skipping out on that prayer meeting was a completely acceptable thing to do.

Less I risk being misunderstood, I'm not saying it was the best thing I could have done. (Perhaps I'd have met a whole slew of contacts who would have given hundreds of dollars!) I am saying that it was totally fine that I didn't go. TOTALLY fine. Here's why:
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)
How much condemnation was there for me skipping out on that meeting?

None.

How much condemnation would there be if I skipped such a meeting again?

None.

What if I skipped out on an entire support trip because I was fearful or lazy or just felt like playing video games instead?

None.

If that doesn't seem right to you, it may be because your view of grace is too small. Mine was. I felt terrible later that night: the initial relief of not going was replaced with wrestling with guilt over giving in to fear. But then I read the verse above and couldn't stop staring at the word, "no". Because I was in Christ Jesus, there was NO condemnation. I was 100%, completely uncondemned. More than that - I was deeply loved as a son of God. That standing was not at all based on what I'd done (or not done) but rather on what Christ has done. As I meditated on that, the fear and guilt was completely replaced with joy.

It ended up being a marvelous night of fundraising despite not gaining a single dollar.

A closing thought: the gospel frees us to be scared and to miss opportunities - but it also frees us to be brave and take opportunities. The grace of God is a transforming grace. It welcomes us as we are but bids us to become more. I didn't finish fundraising by giving into that same fear over and over again. Rather, I finished because I no longer had to feel fear, guilt or condemnation for my weaknesses. Because of Jesus, God would love me no matter what.

Is there any greater motivation than that?