Wednesday, February 1, 2012

God's Old Target, Our Own Targets, Jesus's Victory Party

The Target of God's Law Before the Cross
Sin means "to miss the mark." The law is like a target with multiple marks to hit that hangs close above your head. Whatever you shoot at it that misses the marks falls back down as sin. No human being has the skill to hit every mark every time and will in fact miss most of the time.

The more laws you know the more marks you see on the target. The target lowers the more you miss the marks. Jesus came along and taught the law to the fullest. Those who thought they had always been hitting the "not committing adultery" mark every time found out the mark was much smaller and harder to hit because adultery is "looking with lust." The majority who seemed to easily hit the "do not murder" law found out that they had been missing it most of the time when Jesus said "hate is murder in the heart." At this point people are being crushed flat by the target with no room to shoot or even lift up their bow. When that happens the law fulfills its purpose by getting people to cry out "Help me Lord! I can't do this by myself!"

This illustrated the experiential reality of the law. It was meant to crush self-righteousness out of people so they would appeal to God for His mercy. The spiritual reality was if you missed one mark one time you would be as guilty as one who missed every mark every time.

Our Targets of Rules After the Cross
God's law target was removed at the cross because Jesus hit all the marks Himself. There are no God imposed marks on a target to hit. Christ took away the sin of the world so there is no more hit or miss mentality with God. There is just an open armed invitation of "Trust me to experience the abundant life of my love."

If you trust Him Jesus puts you under grace. Grace reaches high into the heavens and sends down beams of love. Where you stand under grace is high off the ground from where the law was. If you build a new target (a set of laws, rules, principles, obligations, & expectations) you experientially fall from grace, stand on the ground, and put the target over your head. The target blocks many of God's beams of love and grace and you feel down and lowly. You keep yourself from experiencing God by putting yourself under a law target. Under your own law you keep your own score. You condemn yourself (feel guilt and shame) by keeping score. God is not counting anymore because His law was fulfilled by Jesus.

Some people put themselves under law as a means of inflating their ego. They choose what they are good at & put that up as a target. Then they look down on others who don't have the same target with the same marks. Having any target makes you self-righteous because you aren't relying on God's grace or the righteousness of Christ.

The Victory Party
Jesus hit every mark every time. The archery contest is over and Jesus has won! He invites you to share in His victory. Jesus did all the work and you get the same benefits of the victory as He does! You could say that salvation is trusting that Jesus really did win and accepting His invitation to His victory party.

The apostles were whipped and beaten and they rejoiced about it (Acts 5:40-41). Paul and Silas sang praises while bound in a horrid jail (Acts 16:25). For these men Jesus' victory was so great that even persecution was a party! The law is taken away so this party has no rules! Who needs rules when you're partying with the most loving guy in the universe? His good company improves our character!

Party on, Christians! Party on, Jesus!

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