In the lifelong process of learning how to wear Jesus’ easy yoke in order to pull the load God has ordained that I pull in my lifetime, it has been very helpful for me to see myself as an investigator on a mission of discovery. What’s keeping me from entering into the life of living more consistently by faith, powering through life’s pitfalls with love, joy and peace in the midst of personal turmoil, failures and setbacks in my life? Is that not what Jesus promises us?
This generation has forgotten the wisdom of the universally-acclaimed comic-strip sage of the previous one. Pogo the Possum insightfully spoke biblical truth, although probably unknowingly, as he said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Grammar notwithstanding, this is a message we as believers in Jesus Christ desperately need to hear today. Pogo, where are you?
We have discovered the same truth in our investigations in these blog postings dedicated to discovering the clues that lead us to learning how to wear Jesus’ easy yoke. Clue #1 was that the seemingly insurmountable difficulties I am having in handling pressure situations in my life are not someone else’s fault, nor am I a helpless victim of a mean, vengeful God who is out to get me.
No, I am the object of a loving God’s full attention, and He is deliberately planning every difficult circumstance I will face to show me, by my reaction to that situation, that, at its heart, the problem is mine. I am truly the enemy. I am broken, lost and helpless, and I don’t realize it.
Clue #2 is to finally see that fact and recognize that the answer is not to cry out to God to change my wife, my job, or my circumstances in any way, because they are not the problem, but to say with Pogo, “I am the problem,” and its not even what I do. It’s what’s in my heart.
Since Adam’s fateful snack at the Tree in the Garden of Eden, mankind has been on a frenzied journey to be to try to be “good” and not “bad,” according to whatever law-code he has decided to follow. He wants to be happy and not unhappy, productive and not unproductive, rich and not poor, wise and not ignorant, and he tries to convince himself he is being successful, at least until the evidence to the contrary becomes incontrovertible, even to himself.
So, as a result, he refuses to see Clues 1 and 2. Living by the law means trying to be good as God is good, and any sin means he is failing in his subconscious life’s task, and who wants to be a failure? What sin? I surely don’t see any in my life.
The tax collector in Jesus’ parable in Luke 18 was still a tax collector, and the temptation to sin in that vocation, as in all others, was there to tempt him every day as he functioned in the corrupt financial machinery of the Roman empire. His heart was still “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9), but he had found Clue #2—embrace the buried, hidden sin in his heart that his problems had exposed, and repent. “And the tax collector…beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’” (Luke 18:13). For the tax collector, being a sinner was no longer theological or theoretical, but now experiential. When that becomes true for me, I have discovered Clue #2.
When Clue #3 first presents itself, the full meaning of it is initially impossible to believe. Can this really be true?
When considering the most crucial events in human history, secular historians may list scientific discoveries, technological inventions, geographical exploration, or the individuals responsible for these societal tectonic shifts. They totally ignore the focal point of all history,the most crucial event of all time—the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
His coming to earth as man resulted in fallen, estranged mankind’s eternal salvation: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). Clue #3 is to see that Jesus came to save the world, and save the world He did! As He died, He cried, “It is finished” (John 19:30), i.e., “My work is done. The world has been saved.” When I see that this is true for me in my experience, not in theory, or “positionally,” but in my experience, right now, I have finally put on Jesus’ easy yoke.
What does this mean? It is indeed the paradigm shift to end all paradigm shifts. What happened at the cross is now true in my experience. Sin, for me personally, has indeed been “put away” (Hebrews 9:26), “taken out of the way” and “nailed to the cross” (Colossians 2:14), “cast into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19), and removed from me “as far as the East is from the West” (Psalm 103:12). God says “For I will forgive (Robert’s) iniquity, and (Robert’s) sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).
“Yes, but…” There are no “Yes, but’s.” Do you see it? My sin is neither here nor there to God anymore, since the cross. He’s got it covered, literally, and it is now of no significance to Him at all in my relationship with Him. “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:30). Every day, I am free to do exactly what I want to do before God and His attitude of love for me never changes. Is that not what “free indeed” and “unconditional love”means?
Am I still sinning every day? Of course I am, and my awareness of the wickedness of my heart grows every day. I am a worse sinner than I can ever imagine, However, I am free to readily, even eagerly, acknowledge that fact and embrace it, because, as we have seen, sin no longer matters to God. Now, making me holy, as He surely desires me to be, is not in any way my job. It is exclusively His. and make no mistake, I can trust Him to be busily about that task, 24 hours a day,
We all say it is God’s job to make us holy, but do we really believe that? If we do, we can say “Amen” to the previous paragraph without hesitation. However, the temptation is always to “help God out” by endeavoring be good ourselves. In essence, we are saying, “It is God’s job to make me holy, but can I trust Him to do as He says? Just in case He doesn’t do so as quickly as I think He should, I will help him out by doing my very best to obey Him.”
But He has a monopoly on holiness production. My “help” by trying to be obedient simply buries me deeper in the bondage of the law. Paul tells us clearly the plan God will use to make us holy: “For it is God (by the Holy Spirit) who works in you, both to will (to make you ‘want to’ obey) and to do (the power to obey) His good pleasure (keep His law)” (Philippians 2:13).
Do you see I am not involved in any way? I am free to live as I desire while He is at work changing my “want to’s.” He says the same thing in Romans 8:4: “The righteous requirement of the law will be fulfilled in us (not ‘by us’) who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
Do you believe it? It is true. If you do, you have put on the easy yoke and you are pulling the light load. Is there anything easier than doing what you want to do, as Jesus conforms your “want to’s” to His, in His own time and His own way? You have followed the clues. Love, joy and peace is starting to fill your heart. Sherlock and Pogo would be proud.