Stripped to the Core

It is a great season to paint.  The weather is warmer.  The birds are singing.  Why not add a fresh coat of satin paint to spruce some areas up.  There are a couple of rooms that we are currently tackling to do just that.  One room that we are planning on painting is our living room.  It currently is two shades of yellow divided by a white chair rail.  We are thinking a dark gray bottom with a very light gray top would look real nice.  We have a few beach pictures that we converted to canvas prints.  They match these colors beautifully.  We are very excited about this change.  Now, as we approach painting, we are simply going to add a fresh coat.  We have no plans to strip down the old paint.  This would be a lot of work.  When I talk to people, I rarely hear of someone stripping the old paint off.  Last year, we painted our bathroom.  Part of the paint was peeling so we had to strip it.  Otherwise, it was going to look choppy with some sections painted over the old paint while other sections stripped to the drywall.  I got the hairdryer out to warm the old paint so that I can strip it.  It was a lot of work.  Yet, if you are going to correctly paint a room, this is how you do it.  Strip it to its core, apply primer then apply a fresh coat.

This week is Easter.  We celebrate the glorious news of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.  Yes, there are family gatherings.  People celebrate egg hunts.  And, it is common for people to get some time off of work.  Yet, we know this is not the reason we celebrate Easter.  This week is a time to reflect on our Savior’s death for our sins.  Years ago I saw the Passion of the Christ.  When I think of the cross, images from this film flood my mind – the horrific beatings, bloody whippings, and shameful contempt directed at Jesus.  Yet, he endured this pain and suffering so that we might have life and forgiveness.  It was the only way to enjoy a relationship with God.  God’s love for me, a sinner in need of grace, displayed through his pain.

One reason the crucifixion was so ugly was that it required stripping our lives to the core.  It was insufficient to throw an offering on top of our lives in the hope that we would enjoy genuine forgiveness.  We could not simply add a coat of prayer or bible reading and expect to connect to God.  Even our sincerity is insufficient.  I can force my will to search for God however it takes more than brute strength and commitment.  In order to have a genuine relationship with God, it was necessary for all my facades, pretenses, religious behavior, and sin to be stripped to its core.  It was essential that I am vulnerable and naked before God.  In that moment, I stand before His holiness without anything to boast about.  To do the job right, God had to strip our lives down.  This is what happened at the cross.   Every humanistic motive and action fell to the side so that the real problem, our sin nature, could be dealt with completely.  Apart from this we simply are throwing a religious coat on top of the sin.

God doesn’t strip us down simply to embarrass us by saying “look at all that sin.”   He doesn’t remove all of our crutches and self-reliance to point out to us, “See how weak you really are compared to me” as if He needs to point it out.  No, God does this so that He can completely refresh us with His amazing grace.  He loves to extend mercy.  He loves to show love.  Christ died not to spruce us up.  No, he stripped us down so that he can permanently fix us by pouring grace into our broken souls.  In our moment of helplessness, Christ calls us to embrace his forgiveness.  And when this occurs, we experience the abundance and sufficiency of His marvelous grace.

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