Our life in Christ is a life of responsiveness. As Paul had to tell the religious and spiritually imature Corinthians, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor.4:7). As I’ve said before (quoting C. Baxter Kruger), “Religion is about us inviting God into our lives; following Christ is about God inviting us into His life.”
Religion wears us out and wearies our soul. Accepting Christ’s invitation into His life recovers our life and restores our soul.
28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt.11:28-30 MSG *)
Responsiveness is an action, or should I say, a re-action. This is the part we do in the relationship; open up our hearts and respond to Him. Our life with Christ begins with God’s Répondez S’il Vous Plaît , which simply means “please reply.” It’s included in invitations when the host of a party wants you to tell him or her whether you are going to the party. Over and over, Jesus told parables about this invitation. God has sent out His invitation out to all humankind. In fact, the last words of the Bible repeat this invitation:
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” (Rev.22:17 NIV)
The “water of life” is a metaphor for the life of God through communion with His Spirit (John 4:10-14, 23-24; 7:37-39). This is the source of “eternal life” that overflows from God’s heart to ours, and out from us to those around us. I wrote more about this here.
“Whoever is thirsty may come to me and drink. If anyone believes in me, rivers of living water will flow out from their heart.” (John 7:37b-38 ERV *)
Nothing in our life in Christ begins with us. We didn’t choose God, He chose us to be his sons and daughters before time began (John 15:16; Eph.1:4-7). We didn’t even know love without Him loving us first (1 John 4:19). Indeed, the only way we can truly live out the Greatest Commandment (Matt.22:37-40) is if we abide, or sojourn, in the same love that the Father has for Jesus (John 15:9). We didn’t earn this invitation, it was a gift of grace freely given to us by God (Eph.2:8).
Yet, responsiveness means that we can and should respond. We cannot benefit from any relationship, no matter how much it promises, without actually being in the relationship. And relationships that are meaningful are intentional and self-giving.
14 My brothers and sisters, if a person claims to have faith but does nothing, that faith is worth nothing. Faith like that cannot save anyone. (James 2:14 ERV)
We aren’t saved by grace, we’re saved by grace through faith. For God says to us, “Today, if you hear my voice, do not harden your heart…” (Heb. 4:6-8), which means we can harden our heart and remain unaffected. We exercise faith by accepting the invitation.
Finally, it’s His overflowing love, not fear of punishment, that compels us to enter into this other-centered life of Christ (2 Cor.5:14-15; 1 John 4:17). All we have to do is leave our orphan-hearted fear behind and follow Him.
I’ll let you think about that while you’re listening to Tasha Cobb sing, “Fill Me Up.”
You provide the fire
I’ll provide the sacrifice
You provide the Spirit
I will open up inside