I know this seems really odd, but ...

Trinity Pres Church copy

First, I have to admit that the entire world of modern telecommunications still amazes me. I actually know why we say, “Hang up the phone!” because I grew up when a phone was attached by a cord to the wall, and to end a call, you had to “hang it” back up where it always stayed.

Now, there are cell phones with earbuds … and I am still not quite used to seeing someone walking and talking, gesturing with their hands even, and no one is with them. Here in front of me is a person—minus the wonder of modern phone technology—who would otherwise look like a nut. Take away cell phone technology, and they would be talking to themselves—out loud.

Isn’t it amazing that something so odd or unlikely is actually so revolutionary and helpful? Because of this innovation, someone can talk with another person no matter where they are (instead of being tethered like we were in my childhood home to the kitchen phone).

One feature of life in Christ is potentially (to an outside observer) just as odd. In just about every other relationship of our culture, status follows conduct. The way in which to gain or secure your status is to performachieve, or do something to earn it. Conduct or behavior comes first. Then status comes as a consequence of that behavior. It even holds for bad status because if you behave in negative ways, you earn or deserve your negative ratings. Jack misbehaves in school = Jack is a bad boy.

But not with Jesus! One miraculous aspect (of many) of life in Christ is that He offers instant, secure, total, and permanent acceptance to anyone who trusts in Him. It’s hard to quantify all of the ways in which, in Christ, a believer is now credited with status that is, by any other comparison, simply astounding. We are loved, accepted, forgiven, declared righteous, adopted, holy, blameless, free from accusation, and more! None of these qualities are anything that any of us deserve.

Now, be clear! JESUS deserves them! HE has performed, achieved, earned or otherwise accomplished them. But He did so on our behalf, in our place, as our substitute, representative or proxy. But odd as it is to our instincts, He seals them to us — all by faith, and through the indwelling of His own Spirit (ANOTHER indescribable gift!) — at the start. Status comes first!

Why does this matter? First, entire books have been written about what it means for sinners to be justified by grace through faith in Christ alone. That is the essential spark of the entire Protestant Reformation, which kicked off in the early 1500s. But for us, practically, what if you could be freed from the slavery of constantly believing that you have to achieve your status? What if you could get off the treadmill of performance? Shoot, what if you could burn your treadmill because you’ll never need it ever again?

I realize this is hard to accept. It is ODD! It is just so, so different. In fact, if you didn’t see someone doing this in real life, wouldn’t you almost think that the idea would seem … crazy? Like someone now talking with someone else, wherever they are, instead of being tethered to a landline in their kitchen?

Remember that God’s Word says we now live by faith, not sight (see 2 Corinthians chapters 3-5). There is almost no other place where status comes first, and then conduct follows behind, catching up in real behavior to what our true status really is. But if it is true, then we can live with hope and security that nothing in this world can offer and with a freedom that would have seemed unthinkable prior to this.