Recently, we watched Ragamuffin, the movie about the late Christian singer, Rich Mullins. When you get down to it, the movie was about brokenness and the sufficiency of God’s amazing grace to heal our wounds and give us the strength to move on. Our struggles against the flesh will continue until the day we meet the Lord.
But that doesn’t mean God wants us to live a defeated Christian life. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. We have been given the Holy Spirit, so that we can have victory in our walk with Christ. It is by His power that we “live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28, KJV). Victory is only attainable when we walk in the Spirit, in surrender to His will and purpose for our lives, as presented in the word of God.
That said, it takes some people longer than others to reach that place of brokenness which leads to surrender. Each person’s walk is different. We should be careful not to compare our experiences with those of others. We both identified with Rich Mullins’ story, his fears, pain and feelings of inadequacy. It was important that the movie did not hide his shortcomings from us. Some will call him a hypocrite, but we call him a Christian. After all, Christians are just a bunch of, as Rich liked to say, ragamuffins.
Yes, there is hypocrisy within the church, but that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that there is a great dishonesty in the church concerning its hypocrisy. Everyone cleans up well for church, but on Monday through Saturday we hide beneath Sunday’s suits and dresses. We like to appear better than we truly are.
While it’s true that spiritually speaking, we are perfect in Christ, within our flesh, sin still resides, constantly reminding us of who we once were. From time to time, if we are honest, this sin works its way to the surface. And as we said earlier, we will struggle against our flesh until the day we die, or until the Lord returns and we receive a new body.
Why do we want to hide our struggles in the flesh beneath a shiny exterior, so no one can see our failures, fears and inadequacies? The world needs to see our weakness so they can also see the strength of our Savior. Pretending to be stronger than we are is nothing more than self-righteousness.
How will the world see their need for a Savior, if they can’t see our need for Him? When we are weak, He makes us strong. We are His workmanship. He molds and shapes us. We cannot mold and shape ourselves. Clay cannot make itself into anything. It is the Potter who spins the wheel, while we each start off as just an ugly lump of clay.
The Pharisees could not understand why Jesus hung out with the sinners. They saw themselves as righteous, but their righteousness was not found in God, but in themselves. They were sick with the disease of self-righteousness, but the worst part was that they didn’t even know they were sick. This is what prompted Jesus to say the following, “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:17, KJV). The sinners that Jesus ate with KNEW that they were sinners. That is why Jesus could heal them.
In contrast, the Pharisees were so deluded by their own self-righteousness, they thought they were above the need for grace (See Romans 10:3-4). “So what? I’m not a Pharisee,” you say. But we should not be so foolish as to think that this need for grace ends at the door of salvation. We will never outlive our need for the grace of God. If we don’t let the world see how desperately we need God’s grace, how will they ever see their own need for grace?
We’re all just bunch of imperfect ragamuffins being perfected by the King. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10, KJV). Christianity has nothing to do with being good and obeying rules. The Pharisees had it all wrong! It’s about realizing that we are incapable of being good and obeying the rules. It’s never been about what we can do for Him. It’s about what Jesus is doing in us. Remember, it’s His work, not ours. He is the Potter. We are His clay, that ugly old lump on the wheel, that God is forming into a marvelous masterpiece.
We come to His door with nothing. He takes us in and gives us living water to drink. He removes our filthy rags and clothes us with the fine robes of His righteousness. And, then He does the unthinkable; He adopts us and calls us His children, giving all He has as an everlasting inheritance. This is grace. None of us deserve anything. We’re just recipients of God’s amazing grace.
When you grasp this, and realize it’s not about you, but all about Him, it can truly change you and your life. It frees you up to experience the joy that’s in Christ, so you’re not weighed down by the burden of trying to look/act/be “good enough.” Paul says, “that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-9, KJV). God’s grace doesn’t just lead us to the cross. God’s grace is infinite and abounding. God will extend His grace to us for all eternity, simply because He loves us that much.
Do you have a story of grace you’d like to share with us? It’s a never-ending story, isn’t it? Because as we said, that grace is continual and eternal.