By Jonathan Holmes –
*Jonathan is a pastor of the LC-MS returning from disability and a friend of The Jagged Word.
Anxiety is really starting to piss me off. My anxiety always makes me mad, but I’ve begun to train myself with the question, “What does it matter?” Since the answer is usually, “It doesn’t matter at all, so jog on…” But it’s other people’s anxiety that has begun to piss me off too. Now, I don’t yell at those dealing with it, like “GET OVER IT ALREADY!” No, that is neither Christ like, and usually the anxious person’s anxiety is usually increased, and it does nobody any good. It’s counter-productive.
I think it’s because I’m tired of perfectionists; because I’m tired of my own perfectionism. Things are never going to be perfect until you meet sweet Jesus – and I’m not talking about the guy down at the fruit stand – Himself. When you die and are whisked to heaven joining your Lord in glory, that’s the moment you are. You see, God never asks for our obedience in the sense of having to fulfill God’s Law the best we can. It’s impossible for us sinners to do so. Yes, there is a new Adam who lives in the new, free obedience, but that is Christ in me who does so. I have nothing to do with that. The only thing God asks for is our faithfulness, as a bride is to her groom (Ephesians 5, anybody?).
I guess what I’m getting at is this: I am tired of people enslaving themselves to the Law, not just of God but even man. Those people prefer their rules and their regulations over anything else. They end up living so enslaved to the Law, they forget that there is this thing called “freedom.” Now, I’m not talking about “freedom” in the US of A “land of the free, and home of the brave” kind of freedom. I mean, come on; look at all the Laws we have to follow here in the US. The Constitution isn’t that short of a document, and has anyone ever seen a driver’s manual before? The one here in California is pretty thick. So much for the land of the free.
I’m talking about the freedom of the Gospel. The freedom Christ gives us through His death and resurrection. It was, after all, Jesus who came and removed the shackles the Law had us in before. The Law that showed us our sin and made us cower away into a dark abyss. Now, that is no longer the case. For we are no longer slaves of sin and the Law, but slaves of Christ, which in actuality is freedom. Our Master is the master of grace, forgiveness, life, and salvation. Our master wants us to be free and live with a clear conscience. Our Master doesn’t want us cooped up in our house and never leave it. HE WANTS US TO LIVE A LIFE, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!
Yes, we’ll screw up all the time, but that is why the Christian life is one of not just repentance, but forgiveness as well. The free forgiveness of our sins frees our conscience from itself. God tells us that our sins are not just erased – you can typically still see some pencil lead after erasing – but that they are Christ’s sin. They are no longer ours! He who knew no sin, He who had lived a perfect life, He who was the purest man throughout all human history, became your sin. He was the very embodiment of sin. No, it doesn’t make sense, but thanks be to God it doesn’t. Now that’s true love, Fatherly love that only God can provide. His removal of our sin is our righteousness and enables us to live a new life.
So, anyone who is reading this, when you forget to water the lawn or your plants and trees in the back yard; when you go off schedule when something even more important comes up, or even something not as important comes up; when you make that little mistake, whatever it may be, don’t go too hard on yourself. Most of the time those sins are only bound by the law of man, not by the Law of God. I speak from experience here, especially when I was going through depression. You have no idea how relieving it has been to finally be set free by the Gospel, to let forgiveness from God and the forgiveness from a fellow brother or sister in Christ become a key to living your life. Live a life. In fact, Luther in a letter to one of his students who struggled with melancholy – the ye old word for depression – told him that when the devil tells you stop drinking to drink more, even to get drunk. (This letter can be found in Luther’s Letters of Spiritual Counsel. If you’ve never read this book, I can’t recommend it enough, especially his letters on anxiety.)
Is this easy to do? No. I won’t lie. We all get set in our ways, and those ways are hard to get out of. But forgiveness changes lives. That, my friends, is worth more than all the platinum, gold, and silver in existence throughout the cosmos. You were purchased and set free by the giving of a broken body, and the shedding of precious blood. Your eternity starts now, so live like it. Sin Boldly so you can Live Boldly.