This week our baby girl received her Australian citizenship certificate in the mail. She just became a little Aussie. This despite the fact that she has never been to Australia, she can’t name the six states or the prime minister, and she doesn’t know what a lamington is. She’s never read “The Man from Snowy River,” never enjoyed a Vegemite sandwich, and never seen an AFL Grand Final.
She has done none of the things that Australians do, yet she is, by law, 100 percent Australian with all the rights and privileges that entails.
The day you were placed into Christ, you became a brand-new citizen of the kingdom of God, with all the rights and privileges that entails. But like my daughter, you may not be enjoying all the benefits of your citizenship. In Christ you have received forgiveness, righteousness, and holiness, but you may not know that you are forgiven, righteous, and holy.
This is why the scriptures exhort us to be renewed in the spirit of our minds (Ephesians 4:23). That’s another way of saying, “Change your thinking. Discover who you truly are. See yourself as heaven sees you, as a beloved child of God.”
My daughter is already an Australian, but if she wants to live as an Australian, she will have to learn how to be one. Similarly, we need to learn how to walk and talk like citizens of a heavenly country. The Bible calls this working out our salvation and acknowledging every good thing that we have in Christ. We do none of these things to become citizens, but because we are citizens.
One day I may take my daughter to Australia and help her explore that amazing country, but that is nothing compared to the adventure of discovering who we are in Christ.
I met Jesus when I was a child, but it wasn’t until I became an adult that I fully began to appreciate all that he has done for me. Several years ago I had what can only be described as a grace awakening. For the first time I understood what made the new covenant new, and I began to see myself as my heavenly Father sees me—as pleasing, acceptable, and dearly-loved. After that, everything changed.
Before my grace awakening I interpreted much of Jesus’ teachings as hyperbole. “Jesus is exaggerating to make a point. He’s not seriously suggesting that we chop off our hands.” That’s the thin edge of a bad wedge. Dismiss some of Christ’s teachings as hyperbole and we might as well dismiss them all. Grace has taught me to value everything that Jesus said (including his audacious message about chopping off hands).
Before I got grace I interpreted much of the Bible as dire warnings for misbehavior. “If I don’t heed this scripture, I may be punished.” That’s the thin edge of another bad wedge. It’ll lead you to trust in your own moral performance and fall from grace.
Before grace changed me, I was intimidated by many of the hard scriptures in the Bible. I didn’t know what to do with them so I filed them in the too-hard basket. But grace has caused me to view that basket as a treasure chest. Tough scriptures like Matthew 10:28 (“Fear the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell”) and Hebrews 10:26 (“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, expect raging fire!”) no longer frighten me, they thrill me.
Before I got grace, used to dread preaching because I never knew what to say. Now I have much to say. In the old days I used to leave my sermon preparation until late Saturday night. Now I leap out of bed each morning keen to write about all that God is showing me.
God has given me a new song and it is a remix. It’s the timeless truths of scripture as seen through the lens of the new covenant. It’s the ancient and eternal gospel of grace as seen through the eyes of the new man.
Extracted from Grace Remix.