Living the Grey

Stage, lights, action! The show must go on. If only real life was as succinct as stage drama with good guys and bad guys, and definite turning points. It’s the grey areas that get me–the muddles and never ending tangled lines equal complication, and complication equals life. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling to discover what it really means to be saved.” There is black and white, right and wrong, but these become muddled when applied to real life, even more so when the situation at hand doesn’t have a rule to go with it. So we must “keep in step OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwith the Spirit” That is much harder than keeping in step with a list of rules. Without that the simplicity of a script ( say this here, or shut up now) goes out the window.

So we play life by ear, adlibbing and trying  to keep our lives in tune to the rules, at least. Many have given up living by the Spirit of the law. I understand why. It is hard. It takes time and effort to know God. Sometimes in the seeking I feel empty and directionless. I can justify and compromise when living on just the rules. Knowing God fully is impossible, but that can be exciting–there is always more to grasp. It can also be disheartening–this never ends. There is always a need for more growth.

I have been puzzling over things this week, which I have little time for with the stage production consuming my life. I have been thinking of those who influence me the most, and how (in many cases) they get the law all wrong. They are imperfect, they swear, they lose their tempers, they don’t read their Bible’s every day…They fail on so many levels, and yet they still make the list of my positive mentors. I know people who are better at following the law who aren’t on that list. Why? That question had me stumped for several days, and that I was stumped irked me because I knew I wanted to be like those people, but I didn’t know how. I think the answer is this: the people on my mentor list grasp (at least in part) the Spirit of the law; they keep in step with it.

Under the law I fail. Jesus died so that His un-failure could take the place of my failure and make it so I could get to Heaven. He didn’t die so that I would get frustrated trying and failing to follow the law.  He died that I might live and follow in the Spirit of His life. He was perfect in law and Spirit. I am perfect in neither, but I am called to try to  follow in both.  He died to erase the weight of the old covenant and to bring about a new covenant in the Spirit. These thoughts are still in the birthing stages. As I said I haven’t had much time to think, but hopefully they make at least a little bit of sense? What do you think about this? Let me know.

 *Just wanted to clarify that I’m not trying to make excuses for not following the law. That isn’t the part of my mentors that I admire. What I admire is something deeper and harder to describe, an atmosphere of sorts, or, I guess you could say, a Spirit.*

Categories: My Life, Ponderings | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Living the Grey

  1. To the first two paragraphs, I would like to say ‘amen’ and ‘are you living inside of my head?’

    To the second half of your post, I think I understand what you are trying to articulate. One of the examples I always think of is Rich Mullins–not because I always agreed with his understanding of theology, and not because I thought he was a perfect man. When I dig through it all and try to get to the very bottom of it, I think what I see that draws me the most is that I saw/see so clearly in him a desire to know God, follow God, seek God, worship God, dwell with God. I’m not even talking about whether or not he achieved any of those things–just that he palpably desired it.

    • Ha ha, no I am not living inside of your head. I thought I was the only one having these thoughts, in fact, or at least very nearly so.

      And to your second paragraph…Yes! Rich Mullins is the perfect example of the imperfect people I was talking about. Your thoughts on the attractiveness being in the desire are interesting. I’m not sure if that’s fully it, but it is definitely a part.

  2. I enjoy seeing you explore these thoughts.

    From our other written exchanges I think you know how much I agree with the importance of the daily living by the Spirit, with the attendant wrestling with the grey. So I am going to focus my further thoughts on the second half of what you say.

    In response to your paragraph which beings, “I have been puzzling over things this week” I agree with what I think you are saying (and have observed the same in my own life). In no way contradicting what you said, I will add that think our reflections on these matters in general can be helped by considering the example of the Bible. The Pharisees were best at the Bible reading and law keeping. But Jesus esteemed them least, to put it mildly. Why? And what kind of example is that for us–how should we emulate the principle Jesus was displaying?

    The story of the woman who wet Jesus feet with her tears (Luke 7:36-50) and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14) in particular come to my mind, but there are also other examples from the gospels. The biggest “laws breakers” were closest to Jesus and the biggest “law keepers” were furthest from him. The answer to why I think can be summed up in the words of David, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17) You articulated it as being someone living in step with the Spirit, which is a true way to express it. I think another way is seeing that someone is living in the broken and contrite heart before God. We don’t admire such people because of their sins, but because of the goodness and mercy of God shining through in spite of their sins. But this can seem very messy to the outward view of things. (After all, David’s life was really, really, messy and he was called a man after God’s own heart. So the fact that you can see God most in messy lives is not surprising, or wrong.) It is important, of course, as you stress in your closing statement to distinguish between admiring the Grace of God you see in someone’s life, and the sin in that life.

    The reason why the faithful Bible readers, or someone who “puts on a good face” in whatever way can be so empty is because reading the Bible, and all sorts of other outward acts, give nothing to be emulated if we cannot see a broken and contrite heart before God in that person.

    You touch on important things in the paragraph which starts, “Under the law I fail” which certainly deserve further thought and exploration. I am not completely certain how you mean “He was perfect in law and Spirit. I am perfect in neither, but I am called to try to follow in both.” In the NT “law” can be used in more than one way so I am not certain how you mean it. Possibly you mean it a way in which I would not disagree with your conclusion, but I would caution being very careful in talking about trying to keep law. What law are we talking about? Law is used in many different ways in the NT–Law of the Spirit of life, law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2), and others. Paul argues strenuously against the idea that we need to keep the law given at Sinai, but equally strongly for the idea that we need to keep the “law of Christ” (1 Cor. 9:21, Gal 6:2).

    When we think to ourselves about how we need to follow the Spirit and the law, we need to be very careful, and very clear, what “law” we mean, lest we fall into the wrong thinking and sin which Paul spent so much time in his letters arguing against. Unfortunately, when many people say “we need to keep the law” they do mean the law given through Moses at Sinai. The thinking of many is incredibly muddled about this.

    But we are called to keep the law of Christ. This law is the command to be like Christ, which we are enabled to do by the Spirit of Christ in us, to the glory of Christ through us. So in regards to what we are called to do, living by the law of the Spirit of Christ is one thing, not two (ie, not law and Spirit, but the law-of-Spirit).

    Lot, lot, more thoughts to explore in this area. We’re only scratching the surface. Good to see you thinking about these things. Keep it up, and keep sharing!

    • Your third paragraph is strongly true. It is the brokenness that I admire, and the “desire” as Ti-Ti put it. Also many other things, I am sure.

      In response to your discussion about ‘law’ I would say that I meant the NT definition. Following God’s commands because you love Him, and want to please Him. Living as Jesus did. “The law of Christ” as you put it.

      I have kept sharing. We shall see what you have to say on my new post. (And yes it is an indicator that I have been working on my letter a lot this week.)

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