Warning! Rabbit trail ahead...
Last night, I followed the instructions I'd given my teenage photography students in the fall. Put together you pictures in a portfolio so that you can look at your pictures easily. You can look back and forth over time and remember what God has shown you. I've been trying to figure out how to store enlargements that I order of my pictures and I think my husband and I've come upon a solution. I've made the portfolio for my 8 x 10s and 5 x 7s. I'm going to get two larger artist portfolios and a rack to store them in for my larger enlargements.
As I sorted through my pictures, I had to choose how to categorize them. It was interesting to try and group my pictures. One of the groups I formed was portraits, but I decided to make a separate tab for my family. When I looked at them last night, I was singularly struck by something. Beauty did not equal perfection. Hair perfectly in place, clothes matching, perfect background that not's distracting...
In actuality, I beauty in my family's pictures are in their eyes and faces--in the imperfections--in the joy I see on their faces and the ways their eyes sparkle with life.
My family and what I see all around me is the greatest defense I have against the lingering questions in the back of my head. One of the questions I'd been able to easily answer but the second question I've been facing is so intertwined that I couldn't put either question to rest until the Lord opened my eyes to as I was looking at my portfolio helped me articulate the answer to my second looming question.
And now I find myself compelled to articulate my questions and answers because the Lord has given me peace about these questions and I am so thankful to Him for helping me to see!
These are seemingly simple questions that one might think all Christians shouldn't question or wrestle to articulate answers to once they've been a Christian for twenty years. But, I've found that when my foundation gets assailed, cracks can show and I need to fill them in so that the slab foundation will be strong again. So, here are my questions and even more importantly, the filler...
The biggest questions I face are these:
Who is a Christian? and... How must we live?
I cling to the verse that says this:
The Lord saved me by his grace--not by anything I did. This is my greatest defense against the false teaching that can creep in that I am saved in any way by something I might do. I see groups and churches teach that we must do good works or that we must do "this" and "that" to be saved.
For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
But, does this excuse us and allow us to sin and yet be saved? No. That's not the answer. Autumn has been asking me why we try to be good if we're saved by grace. If our works are not what save us, why should we try to do good to others and seek to be like Christ? She said out loud a question I needed to answer for her and for me.
Romans 6:14-18 ESV
We are not condemned. (The Romans passage is one I will talk about more fully in the next post.)
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
God is continually working in us. We seek to good to others out of a thankful heart to the Lord. Because we love Him.
I realized yesterday that this next verse has been a cornerstone for me. I do not cling to the law of the Old Testament, but rather to the Gospel of grace. In the Gospel of Matthew 22, we find how the law is summed up:
I John 4:7-12 ESV