Thursday, August 6, 2015

Legalism vs Redemption

I was chatting with a friend last week about the conundrum of grace. She vulnerably shared about a situation she was facing, and how sometimes, the deeper challenge is not in apologizing, but in accepting forgiveness. Sometimes, we feel so uncomfortable with the concept of grace, that we would prefer the playing field just be leveled.

I mess up, you mess up, we're even. We move on. 

It may sound twisted, but I understood perfectly. I got how difficult it can feel for our human heart to be handed unwarranted forgiveness, a new slate so to speak. 

I thought about how Jesus' love has taught me to lay down & accept grace when my heart wants to feel justified and "safe." I thought about how this has rolled into my relationship, allowing me to accept forgiveness where I previously would have fought it. 

And then this weekend happened, and I realized that maybe I don't have as big of a grasp on this "free grace" thing as I thought. 


Because the world is ridiculously small, a man that I had crossed paths with 2 and a half years ago on a pre-#adventuresofsoberamy outing somehow collided with one of my good friends. When she asked if I remembered him, I legitimately did not. It took a few Facebook profile pictures to jog my memory, though there wasn't that good of a memory to jog in the first place. 

I felt perfectly safe laughing with my two good friends over this drunken, relatively harmless escapade, but once I realized that this man's image of me did not include the previous 2 years of sobriety, I felt the need to justify myself. The words "tell him I'm 2 years sober and love Jesus now!" flew straight out of my mouth. 

I felt uncomfortably thick in shame that I haven't felt in some time. And in that moment, it seemed like the only way out of that shame was through self-justification. 

I am sober now, therefore my identity is no longer marked by drunken stories. 

I am sober now, therefore my transgressions do not define me. 

I am sober now, therefore I am redeemed. 

And in that moment, I realized that at some point in the last 2 years of sobriety, I got things very, very backwards. 

Sobriety does not redeem my past, 
Jesus redeemed my past. 

All of a sudden, I realized that my salvation and redemption felt safe when seen through the lens of my sobriety. But when that was taken out of the equation, when all that was evident were stories of drunken escapades, I didn't feel redeemed. 

Sobriety was a gift from God, but somewhere along the way, it started taking His place.

God is my redeemer, not sobriety. 

God is the one who frees me from shame, not sobriety. 

Christ is the reason I can stand before God with confidence, not sobriety. 

Sobriety came from the grace of God as a response to the redemption being accomplished in my heart. It was never meant to earn or justify my salvation. 


I used to think legalism was all about putting on a front for others, but now I see that it can easily be used as a front for ourselves. Because accepting free grace? It feels uncomfortable and unnatural. We would much rather feel as though we've safely earned something than freely and undeservingly received it. 

I want to stop trying to earn grace. Because the fact of the matter is, thanks to my homeboy Jesus, it's already mine to receive. 

I want to stop using sobriety as a security blanket to hide from shame. Instead, I want to accept the truth that my identity has been reformed from the inside out simply because I am radically loved by God.

Radically loved, I tell you. 

{PS: you are too}

2 comments:

Ashley said...

Oh friend, I struggle with that too. It's so hard to remember sometimes, this post meant so much to me thank you for sharing! It may have sparked something in me for a post, too! And many congrats on your sobriety. Having a family member struggling with alcoholism, I know what a difficult disease it is. Gods grace is so good!

Kenzie @ Life According to Kenz said...

Radically loved, I tell you. Oh, sweet friend...how wise you are! So blessed by your friendship and leadership. <3 I know I am not the only one!