If you had dropped out of the sky and onto our Yei Children’s Village base this afternoon- say at 3:33 PM- you would have found a small company of 15 people sitting in a tight circle in one of the reed outbuildings on the half-acre property. Some were seated in green or blue plastic chairs, while a few of the young men sat thigh to thigh on a wooden bench. Some eyes were glazed over and a few heads were nodding- the lunch of rice and greens resting heavily in their stomachs. Little beads of sweat gathered on the foreheads and upper lips of those in attendance, and seated in the front of the room, a little woman scribbled on a large sheet of wrinkled white paper. She was teaching the fourth Journey discipleship weekend course- this one about living in grace.
She prefaced her teaching with this phrase, “Of all the things we have learned over the past weeks, understanding grace is so very important!”
Two circles were drawn on the paper. One represented the reality of an earthly kingdom – the life of unfulfilled justice where people believe lies about God and themselves. Those lies fill them with fear which leads them to try to control their circumstances. Finding themselves unable to maintain control, they are filled with shame, which is soon followed by condemnation from others around them or from the accuser of the brethren (yeah-that’s the devil).
For example, a person might believe the lie that their finances are not secure, which draws them into deep-seated, almost paralyzing fear. They rapidly scramble to control their finances, selling stocks or withdrawing wads of cash from their banking accounts to pad their mattresses. As the situation around them continues to grow more dire, they are filled with shame and second-guess their previous decisions. Their minds give way to self-accusation and frustration, only deepening their fear. The cycle continues in a downward spiral of fear, control, shame, and condemnation…
Well, friends, surprise, surprise, but there is a better way! The second circle drawn on the paper represented the kingdom reality – the life of grace. Living in grace means living in the fulfillment of justice- the fulfillment that Jesus purchased on the cross so many years ago. Living in that place, there is no need for a person to frantically try to make situations right or to work themselves into righteousness. All has been completed, the challenge is only to hold onto the truth when lies creep in.
A person living in grace, when confronted with the lie that their finances are not secure, would recognize the lie and reject it soundly. “That is a lie, and it will not move me into fear, worry, and frenzy. I am a child of the Most High God, and the Scriptures tell me that He is a good Father and faithful provider. He knows my needs and loves me, and since I live in His kingdom reality, I know I have safety and provision in Him.” No, it’s not denial- nor is it just positive self-talk- it is taking the truth of Scripture as reality and standing on it. It is choosing to reject the lies of the earthly reality to move into living life in the Kingdom reality. It is believing that what Jesus said and what He accomplished truly “finished” everything. It is resting in the fact that we cannot improve on what Jesus finished.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” -Romans 8:1
(PS- I only used the lie of financial insecurity because so many people have been worried about their financial future recently. These unfulfilled justice/fulfilled justice (grace) realities are just as applicable to lies like, “You screwed up. God doesn’t love you!”)