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C'mon, it was just fruit. Was the fall really the result of simply eating forbidden fruit?
No. The fall came when we humans decided that our Father should not be listened to. The fall came when we humans decided that the Living God should no longer be our God.
What is the fall of mankind? As a result of our broken relationship with our Creator, we have broken relationships with our fellow man, self and nature. When this becomes clear, we then understand why the greatest commandments are not focused on objects or specific actions, but on relationships. First of all, our relationship with the Lord our God and then with our fellow man as we have a proper relationship with self.
If the fall is the fundamental breakdown of all living relationships, then salvation is not merely about eternal destinations but the reconciliation of all living relationships beginning with THE foundational relationship between our Father in Heaven and each one of us. In other words, being saved or born again restores our understanding of our place in His universe.
And so, Jesus instructs his first converts that in their joy of salvation, living in the age of grace, not to forget what they are being saved from.
Jesus makes it clear, God's grace allows us to walk the path that He has laid out for us. God's grace does not obliterate the path. In other words, being saved by grace does not change God's purpose. Yes, we have proved over and over again that the Law will not make us the righteous, loving stewards that God made in His image. We have proved over and over again that we cannot be changed from the outside in. But, through God's grace, through the gifts of His Word, His Son and His Spirit, we have the awesome opportunity to be changed from the inside out.
To be righteous and loving and to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect is still the goal. What has changed is how accessible this goal is. This goal is now accessible to sinners.
We have seen Jesus time and again teach, eat with, and heal those who the religious leaders would not pay heed to because the untouchable were deemed hopeless. His disciples were uneducated labourers. He healed and taught Spiritual truths to women. He healed Romans, Samaritans and others.
Who we are on the outside, what jobs we have, how smart we are, what gifts we have, what family we were born into, what abilities we have, what gender we are no longer matters. We all have access to the grace of God for salvation. What we can become on the inside has not changed. There is still works of the flesh that drive us away from our Father, each other and ourselves. There is still fruit of the Spirit that leads us toward our Father, each other and ourselves.
And so, Jesus warns His disciples that because the path has not disappeared, there are still many ways to wander off the path. There are still points where we can stumble. And he gives a grave warning to those who would teach about this new age of grace: Don't be the reason why people stumble. "Watch yourselves."
Even in the age of grace, what we do still matters. What we say still matters. What we teach still matters. Believe me, as a Bible study leader, as an occasional preacher, as someone who authors this blog, as a professing Christian, this warning from my Lord is sobering. He makes it clear that I need to be sure that I am helping to lead people toward the Living God and not driving people away from the Living God to countless dead gods.
Such responsibility can lead us to paralyzing fear. It can make us continually wonder if we have what it takes or have been given everything we need. Maybe, just a little more training, just a little more time. Maybe, just a little more faith. "Increase our faith!"
And our Lord calmly says that we already have what we need. Grace gives each of us access. We have access to His Word. We can know what He has revealed to all of us. We can know His Son and how He taught each of us to live, how to love, how to pass on the grace that has been given to us. We have access to His Spirit. If we sincerely desire to know the One True God and His Son, whom He sent, then we can be changed into the kinds of people who are part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
It's a fantastic way of life, to be a Christian. It's the greatest to be a blessing as He blesses others through us. It's fantastic to see the lights come on in people that have been given up, who have been labeled hopeless. It's awesome to see people become loving, joyful, content, generous, kind, sober, peaceful, patient, faithful and good. Against such things there is no Law.
But, one final warning from Jesus: Remember who you are. We are not God. We are not the reason such changes are taking place. This was not our idea. This was not through our sacrifice. That was not through our power. We are servants. We serve Him as He enables us to serve others.
It doesn't matter whether we have facilitated salvation for one or for one hundred thousand, we have done no more than what we were supposed to do. We are not heroes. He is the hero. He came to us. He taught us. He showed us. He healed us. He died for us. And, He was raised from death. He was given the name that is above every name. That, at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth.
We work for Him. He doesn't work for us. Whatever gifts and abilities we have, we are to use for Him. Whatever we are blessed with, we are to use for Him. And, it's the way it was always supposed to be. Those of us who were overweight and lose a bunch of weight are not heroes, we are simply getting back to what we should have been doing all along. Those of us who profess Christ and love our neighbour are not to dislocate our shoulder patting ourselves on the back for how great we are. No. We are simply getting back to what we should have been doing all along.
Every time we have fantasies of how great we are and find ourselves puffed up by the gratitude of others, we should echo the teaching of Jesus, "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty."