no cross so heavy

There is a line in one of my favorite hymns, Count Your Many Blessings, that sings this melody in the second verse,

“Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?”

And it is this song that came to mind as I read from 1 John that “his commandments are not burdensome.” The weight pressing on top of hunched, wearied shoulders is not the weight of God’s commandments.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.

And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:1-5 ESV, emphasis mine)

Because we are freed to follow, freed to love, freed to obey, freed to hope in believing the power of Christ’s death and resurrection.

Freed.

If a slave is released from the toil of one yoke to another – from the demands of one set of chains to the demands of another – we do not proclaim him free. He is not free. The nature of his slavery is that he must work to live.

The nature of our freedom in Christ is that Christ’s work grants life. The work is accomplished and freedom is gained in believing.

So, when we read that our love of God is expressed in our keeping of His commandments, it is not because our law abiding secures our life.

Did you hear that, friend?

There is not one law-abiding thing you can do to make your life more secure. Christ has done all the work and offers you all the reward.

This is the victory – the glorious, weightless truth that Christ broke the slave chains of sin and destroyed the yoke of death. And He did all this without our help, while we were helpless.

Today, remember that keeping God’s commandments is what we are freed into and that Christ stands in the gap when we obey imperfectly. When we believe that Christ truly conquered and canceled sin on the cross, our righteousness rests on the burden he bore on our behalf. Let’s love Him and keep His commandments with this kind of grace hemming us in.

The cross might seem heavy that you are called to bear, but there is no cross so heavy as the cross Christ bore on our behalf to free us to love Him, obey Him, serve Him, and enjoy Him.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

pensive doubting fearful heart

Have you ever met a dead man who knows you?

Well, John Newton and I haven’t exactly met. I guess I should be clear: we haven’t met at all. But he couldn’t have started out a hymn with a more appropriate assessment of my heart. Sometimes, I excuse my pensive, doubting, fearful heart condition by calling it humility or wisdom or an attempt at being “gentle as a dove.”

Maybe sometimes it is true that I am those things, but I know for certain I make more excuses than my heart deserves. As I am being transformed from one little degree of glory to the next, my heart sometimes stumbles over thought and doubt and fear. I get anxious and make human calculations, which nearly always add up to paralyzing human fear.

The combination of vulnerable words (pensive, doubting, fearful) is tricky because each serves a purpose in making us more like Christ. Our best thoughts and greatest questions and deepest fears are all satisfied in Him, but the result is the opposite of paralysis. The result is freedom.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

(2 Corinthians 3:17-18 ESV)

Today, my pensive, doubting, fearful heart is dancing from one degree of glory to the next, swaying to this song.