Insurance or Inheritance?

Is the Gospel insurance or inheritance?

That was a rhetorical question posed to me recently at a men’s retreat. I’d heard the question before, but it struck me in a new way.

Is the Gospel insurance or inheritance?

If the Gospel is insurance, the benefits pay out when I die. I “pay” my monthly premiums by going to Sunday morning service, having a daily quiet time, tithing and so on so that, when I die, I get to go to Heaven.

But, if the Gospel is an inheritance, then I receive the benefits when someone else dies. That is a profound truth. It is the difference between play-acting (hypocritical) religion and actually being the people of God.

When we treat the Gospel as insurance we tie ourselves to a religious system of “dos” and “don’ts”. It is a Gospel devoid of Grace because we are still trying to be “good enough” to get into Heaven. The result is hypocrisy, playing at being the people of God, but without any interior life change and without any power to actually set people free. All because we are living to get into Heaven when we die.

However, when we realize that the Gospel is an inheritance, everything changes.

When we surrender our lives to Christ, we are reborn through our baptism as the children of God. And if we are sons then we are also heirs. Inheritance is freely receiving what rightfully belongs to someone else. This means that everything that rightly belongs to Jesus (intimate communion with Father, power and authority to establish the Kingdom of God, righteousness, peace and joy, etc. etc.) is now accessible to us.

Inheritance is Good News. Inheritance is Grace. Inheritance means I’m dying to get Heaven into my life.

The reality that the Kingdom of God is breaking in all around us is Good News. And because the Gospel is an inheritance, all the sons and daughters of God (those who have surrendered their lives to God and have been reborn through the waters of baptism) get to play a part in seeing that Kingdom come and God’s will be done on the earth. We get to enter into the family business of setting people free, binding up broken hearts, healing the sick and making demons homeless. That, to me, is far better than some ethereal promise of “heaven” when I die. I don’t want to die and go to heaven – I want to live and see Heaven come to earth.

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The Kingdom Now: Pursuing What is Available, Part 2

Worship this morning was really wonderful. God has been visiting us in a really sweet way these past couple of weeks. It isn’t flashy or glamorous, but I feel like our hearts are being recalibrated by the simple truth “God loves me.”

Anyhow, during the question and answer time, a metaphor of pursuing what is available came to me and I wanted to flesh it out a little more here.

After the Rebellion and before the Cross, humanity was separated from God by the Great Wall of Sin. Longer than we could imagine, higher than we could climb and covered with razor wire that would cut to ribbons anyone who tried to climb up on their own, the Great Wall of Sin kept us confined to the kingdom of darkness. We couldn’t save ourselves, we were trapped.

Then came Jesus with the powder-keg of Grace that was the Cross. Jesus’s death and resurrection blew a gaping hole in the wall, making a way for us to come into the Kingdom of God and find our identity as sons and daughters of God.

With that freedom now available to us, wouldn’t it be silly to simply stand at the wall and admire the hole?

I’m eternally grateful for the Cross and all that it accomplished. Without Jesus paying my debt, dying in my place, I would be condemned to a life of darkness and slavery to sin. But the Cross is just a doorway into the Kingdom, a bridge, a hole, whatever metaphor you want to use – it isn’t the whole of the Christian life.

Continuing with our analogy, wouldn’t it be silly to stand just inside or outside the prison and simply admire the hole that Jesus’s sacrifice made? Wouldn’t it make more sense to journey into the Kingdom, seeking out the King who loved us so much so as to send His Son to die for us in order to make a Way for us to come to Him?

I think all of us have to go through a stage on our journey with Jesus where we admire the hole He made through the Cross. We have to weep and mourn. We have to understand that we couldn’t ever do it on our own. We have to realize that our sin, our very nature, was to be rebellious and separated from God and without our Baptism into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus we would be doomed. But I think it is a mistake to stay there.

I think Jesus died to set us free so that we could explore, examine and own the Kingdom of God. He wants us to enter into that Promised Land. He wants us to find our inheritance and sons and daughters of the King. He wants us to know and be known by the Lover of Our Souls.

I think NOT pursuing what is available is a tragic mistake. I think it dishonors the sacrifice Jesus made to set us free.

And here is where the analogy breaks down – we can both “explore” and “stay at the hole”. We can discover the Kingdom of God and call people out of darkness in the same hour. In fact, I’d argue that the more we explore, the deeper we go into the Kingdom, the more people will be drawn to find freedom through Jesus and do the same.

So, those are some additional thoughts on this topic. I appreciate you all reading. Have a great one!

I am not paper trained

Every once and awhile I pretend I can fiddle. I break out my instrument and instructional manual and terrorize the neighbors. I was reading up on fiddling the other day and came across a funny insight. Fiddlers have a term for violinists who switch from sheet music to trying to play by ear. They call them “paper trained.”

“Paper trained” violinists never seem to make good fiddlers. They are afraid to make messes, afraid to experiment, afraid of wrong notes. Old time fiddlers couldn’t care less. You hear a tune you like and squeak and squawk until you bang it out as good or better than the original. Old time fiddlers valued spirit and passion, creativity and experimentation. The fiddle is a true pioneer instrument.

I am not a paper trained pastor. I have no seminary degrees, just a burning love for Jesus. I squeak and I squawk. I make messes in the House. I know what the Gospel is supposed to sound like, but no composed sheet music sounds like it.

I have questions. Questions about the Gospel, questions about salvation and questions about the Christian life. I have so many questions that I often feel disqualified to be a pastor. I feel like we should have someone leading who has more answers.

Then I remember that God isn’t a static body of information to be mastered, but a living, moving, breathing Person. And that makes me feel better. If God were a subject to be comprehended, a professor with professional mastery would be the best person to lead. But if God is a Person to be loved, sought out, adored, wooed and wedded, then a lovesick and relentless hunter is what you need.

I’d like to say I am a seeker, but that word carries a foul taste for me with the “seeker sensative” movement. I prefer hunter. I know my quarry – I’ve studied His movements, I know His ways, I’m sensitive to His moods – it is only a matter of time before He is found. And, when I find Him, I think I will be surprised because I think I will find that He is the one who has actually been stalking me.

I can’t wait to be caught by that Lion. What a glorious day that will be. But for now the hunt is on. I carry in my heart the melody of the Gospel of the Kingdom and I will continue to squeak and squawk until it comes out on earth the way I hear it in Heaven.

And it is good to know that my Lion, my Lover, isn’t paper trained either.

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King I tell you.