If you’ve ever spent more than two consecutive minutes with me, you know that one of my fun “quirks” is my tendency to apologize – for everything. Bump into me, I’m going to apologize. If I think that I could potentially be within five feet of your charted course, I guarantee that I will utter the phrase, “I’m sorry.” An exuberant number of people have commented on or questioned this quirk of mine, and I finally have an answer for you.
I apologize for everything because I believe that I am inferior to you.
Yes, I realize that sounds extremely dramatic – I cringed while typing that sentence. But, it is entirely true. Somewhere along my journey, I fell prey to the lie that I am inferior to others. Sub par, less than, invisible; you name it, I’ve subconsciously told myself that these lies were in fact the truth. But why is this important and what does this have to do with you? If you’re being honest with yourself, you know that the second you read the word “lie,” you immediately thought about the poisonous seeds that the enemy has planted in your own mind.
Guess what? Those lies are the reason that you are not advancing in your spiritual life. However, it actually has nothing to do with your behavior at all!
As Christians, we consistently wrestle with understanding how “saved by grace” and “faith without works is dead can coexist. I believe that the answer lies in Christ’s famous Sermon on the Mount. When we think about that famous teaching in Matthew 5-7, we often think that Christ basically reiterated the Law of Moses, yet with even stricter rules. While it is true that Jesus expounded upon many presumptions that culture had made about certain commandments, such as divorce and murder, I believe that the key to understanding His teaching lies within the first chapter:
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:13-16)
When I first read through this teaching, I simply thought that it was a commandment about how we are to act. BUT WAIT! What is Christ doing here? He begins the commandment by telling the disciples of their identity! You ARE the salt & you ARE the light — those are titles!
So what? This literally changes everything! Christ is telling His disciples WHO THEY ARE so that they are able to act out of that and do His will. Jesus doesn’t simply tell the disciples what to do, because He understood that their religious practices had already done that. He understood that the people were not being transformed and empowered because they understood their relationship with YHWH to be a list of do’s and don’t’s. They did not understand what it actually meant, that God had called them to be His people; if they had, then out of a deep understanding of their identity would they be able to act justly.
When we as believers do not understand our identity, Christianity simply becomes a list of do’s and don’t’s, and we become plagued by legalism. However, when we act out of the understanding of our identity, the works of Christianity are not simply works, but rather an extension of ourselves. When we take hold of the incredible love and grace of God, we see ourselves as children of God. When we understand who we are, the good works of Christianity are almost second nature – rather than striving to “be good”, we strive to intimately know Christ and therefore He is able to work and shine through us.
We are called to do good works and be the light of the world. How do we accomplish this? By intimately knowing God. When we know who God is, then we know who He has created us to be. Then, and only then, are we able to do the will of God here on earth. It is then that we understand that we are “saved by grace” and able to “work out our salvation.” Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. It is then that you will learn the TRUTH of who you are and understand your great worth because of WHOSE your are.
***This post is my public confession of my attempt to stop apologizing so much… But be patient with me! 🙂