Sometimes I am amazed how the Lord presents truths to us and mixes them over time with providential circumstances to reveal the inadequacy of our perspective and the complacency of our walk with Him.
Recently I posted a quote on Facebook from J.C. Ryle “If you do not love Christ, let me plainly tell you what is the reason: You have no sense of debt to Him.”
The post got a few hearty Amens but little discussion. In a way I was glad because to be honest I don’t think I really had a sense of the depth of that quote. I understood it, but I wasn’t feeling it.
A a few days later I sinned. It was a selfish, stupid sin that I struggle with from time to time. One I wish I could be free of. But there it was. I was dead, caught in my trespass. I did not feel worthy to come before the Lord and ask to be forgiven… again. So I avoided Him for a while as I wallowed in my pity and sense of guilt. I did eventually confess my sin to the Lord, but in the back of my mind I wondered if I was just mouthing the words. Was I just going through the motions? I felt guilty but I did not really feel that sense of debt those Amen-ers seemed to grasp.
I chewed on that for a while. The taste of it lingered. Kind of like those red onions from Burger King three hours later.
A few days later I was reading the 2nd chapter of Romans. It was tough. There were too many distractions to make it profitable. On one end of the house there were folks loudly watching the recorded “live” version of The Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood (ugh!) On the other end of the house my daughter was playing some loud Christian music in her bedroom
Verses like these were tagging me. But not getting all the way through.
Romans 2:1 “YOU, therefore, have no excuse, you pass judgement on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgement do the same things”
Romans 2:4 “Or do YOU show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance”
I knew the lord was working on my hard heart. The inadequacy of my ho hum repentance was nagging at me.
Due to the noise I decided to listen to the dramatized NIV on my kindle. And this is where the lord broke through. It is where my hard heart crumbled into tiny little pieces.
I listened to john chapter 13 where Jesus washed the disciple’s feet. Peter resisted Jesus and said “Lord, you are going to wash my feet?” He resisted further, “ No, you shall never wash my feet”. Peter understood that Jesus was the Messiah. He saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead. He had heard Jesus say to the Jewish leaders “Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am!” Peter knew the meaning of this. He knew Jesus was claiming to be God. Peter Knew who Jesus was and rightly resisted. But Peter relented when Jesus said to him “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me”. Peter then wanted Jesus to wash not only his feet but his hands and his head as well. (Peter was an all-in kind of guy) Jesus then explained to Peter that “those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean”
Now I know what that means. We have been washed in the blood, we have been redeemed. We’ve had a bath. We are clean from a positional standpoint. The washing of the feet refers to confessing our current sins, basically, since our last repentance.
It occurred to me that when we are exercising 1 john 1:9 “If we confess our sins He is faithful… to CLEANSE us from all unrighteousness”. What we are really doing is asking Jesus to wash our feet. We are asking Jesus to stoop and wash our dirty, stinking feet. We are asking Him, the Lord of the universe, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, to cleanse us from the stain of sin we so callously got ourselves dirty with… again.
I had a mental image of Jesus – the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, gently washing my sin away, gently dabbing until the stain of sin was gone. In my mind I was submitting to the unimaginable depth of kindness that he has for me. I recalled Jesus’ words to Peter “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me”. Like Peter I wanted him to wash me. Honestly it was overwhelming. I sobbed. And then sobbed some more. It moved me to worship the Lord for His kindness and His compassion and I thanked Him for the incredible kindness of WANTING to restore me to Himself.
Saying “I have been washed” speaks to me of a humbled submission and an acceptance of my own helplessness in a way that “I have been forgiven” does not. It also carries with it the idea that this great God of ours loves us so much that he personally involves himself in restoring us. He does not dispatch a lesser agent. He does it Himself. Only He is qualified to do it. Restoration is a privilege He reserves for himself. And we have to do it His way or no way at all.
God showed me afresh what it meant to have a sense of debt to Him. And that sense of debt lead me to love Him more.
AMEN! J.C. Ryle AMEN!