I wish I had something extremely profound to write about currently. Maybe I’m over-thinking and being a perfectionist to my own demise. But writer’s block doesn’t mean God hasn’t been speaking. In fact, He’s been pretty present as of late. So I decided to write down some of the lessons I believe the Lord is teaching in this season of pruning and shaping He has me in. Some of these may turn into full length posts someday, but for now they are just random lessons learned in the wilderness of writer’s block:
Too much weed killer, and not enough fertilizer, kills a yard
Mortification and vivification are two words used to describe the Christian’s process of sanctification, the process by which God shapes and forms His children back into the shape of shalom, the image of their Savior Jesus Christ. Mortification is the daily process by which sin is intentionally, purposely, and viciously battled against; vivification is daily the process by which the believer, in response to the mortification, attempts to “vivify”, or bring to life, virtues and joys that replace areas where sin once dwelt. The process must be “both/and” to be considered sanctification. But, like most things with humans, we tend to swing more to one side or the other. Personally, my pendulum swings more towards mortification. That in no way means that I do a good job at killing sin (most times quite the opposite), but it does mean my mind is generally more concerned with how horrible I am and the things I do wrong than concerned with replacing those horrible things with things that bring life. Recently, while talking with a friend about my deadly one-sidedness, he compared what I was doing to tending to a garden by using too much weed killer and not enough fertilizer. Weed killer is used to, well, kill weeds. Fertilizer, on the other hand, is used to begin to process of growing more desirable plants in your garden. Using too much of either one, at the expense of the other, ruins the yard. Too much fertilizer without first clearing out the weeds produces a garden with flowers choked out and surrounded by weeds; but use too much weed killer and not enough fertilizer, and you just have a graveyard of dead plants. This is what the Christian life is like. Only focusing on mortification without asking for the grace to vivify only brings death. But in order to truly enjoy vivification, or, in order to truly enjoy the beauty of new life springing forth in your garden, you must be engaged in the hard work of mortification. Be both/and.
God’s sanctification is God’s love
I just got through reading through the book of Leviticus. Yes, it was arduous; and yes, it’s worth it. Leviticus is full of festivals, moral laws, weird sacrifices and a lot, and I mean a lot, of shed blood. Staying deep into the weeds of it can easily find you lost. But if you zoom out a tad bit to look at how it reveals God’s character, we see it centers around God calling Himself The Lord who Sanctifies, a name He gave Himself in Exodus. So this isn’t a new name for the people of Israel but, after giving them all of these laws and commands to follow, He needed to remind Israel of who He is, which gives an explanation for what He is doing. God’s name is God’s character; and His character always proceeds and explains His actions. He is the God who sanctifies His children. Why? Because He is Holy. And only holy can be around holy. Therefore, God shows us that His love for us and His desire to dwell with us is so great that He would make a way for the people to sanctify themselves. Ultimately, these sacrifices were not enough and the people continued to live in rebellion and suffered the consequences of such. But it is through the blood of Jesus, slain hundreds of years later, and the giving of the Holy Spirit that now dwells in the hearts of believers, that we see God’s master plan (and master love) to continue to purify His people and make them holy and blameless before Him so He can dwell with us. Why? Because He loves us. God sanctifies because God loves.
Loving Jesus is the Beginning of Living
Are you in love with Jesus? Like, really in love with Jesus? Are you in love with His mission? Are you in love with His words, His actions, His thoughts? Are you in love with His commands? Like the psalmist, are they sweeter than honey from the honeycomb? Honestly, I don’t love Him like that. There are times I question whether I have even the base standard of love for Him. Does He consume my thoughts? Do I long to linger over the Word, the entire Word, to see traces of Him from Genesis to Revelation? Is He both my gentle Savior and my Mighty King? Do I love his sufferings? Do I love how He took every bit of suffering that I am deserving of for being an enemy of a holy and wrathful God? Do I love how He loved others? Do I love looking for ways to bring truth and light into the lives of other people like He did? Do I stay up at night and meditate on His truth? Do I wake up and reach for His Word instead of my phone? Do long for the Holy Spirit to apply His Word(s) to my life? Do I long to look like Him? Do I long to be with Him, to sit next to Him, to see Him face to face? Do I love Him? Not like I should. And if I’m not trying to love Him like that and more, I’m not trying to live.