Recently I’ve found myself revisiting my highlights and notes on John Lynch’s magnificent book, The Cure – a book I read last year that profoundly transformed my relationship with Christ.
One section has been especially moving to me this week. In a series of bulleted questions, Lynch offers a diagnostic for sorting out whether our relationship with God is one of shame, or one of grace. I hope you find these as helpful, and as encouraging, as I have.
How do I know if my relationship is with the God I see through my shame, or with the God who really is:
Do I measure my closeness with God by how little I’m sinning, or by my trust that, to the exact extent that the Father loves Jesus, the Father loves me?
Do I see myself primarily as a “saved sinner,” or a “saint who still sins”?
When I talk to God, do I spend more time rehearsing my failures or enjoying His presence?
Am I drawn to severe authors and preachers who challenge me to “get serious about sin” or those who encourage me to trust this new identity in me?
Am I drawn to messages telling me I haven’t done enough or those that remind me who I am so that I’m free to live out this life God’s given me?
Do I believe that one day I may achieve being pleasing to God or am I convinced I’m already fully changed and fully pleasing?
Is my hard effort spent preoccupied with sin or in expressing and receiving love from others?
Do I trust [spiritual] disciplines to make me strong or grace to strengthen me?
Do I believe that God is not interested in changing me, because He already has?
Do I read the Bible as “You ought, You should, When will you?” or as “You can, This is who you now are”?
God has shown all of His cards, revealing breathtaking protection. He says, in essence, “What if I tell them who they now are? What if I take away any element of fear? What if I tell them I will always love them? That I love them right now, as much as I love my only Son?
‘What if I tell them there are no logs of past offenses, of how little they pray, or how often they’ve let me down? What if I tell them they are actually righteous right now? What if I tell them I’m crazy about them? What if I tell them that, if I’m their Savior, they’re going to heaven no matter what – it’s a done deal? What if I tell them I actually live in them now, my love, power, and nature at their disposal? What if I tell them they don’t have to put on masks? that they don’t need to pretend we’re close?
‘What if they knew that, when they mess up, I’ll never retaliate? What if they were convinced bad circumstances aren’t my way of evening the score? What if they knew the basis of our friendship isn’t how little they sin, but how much they allow me to love them? What if I tell them they can hurt my heart, but I’ll never hurt theirs? What if I tell them they can open their eyes when they pray and still go to heaven? What if I tell them there is no secret agenda, no trap door? What if I tell them it isn’t about their self-effort, but about allowing me to live my life through them?”