Reading Reflection:

Counsel from the Cross, Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson (Crossway, 2009) I am reading an awesome book right now! I couldn’t decide which tabbed page I’ve marked to be used as a Reading Reflection. One of my flagged sections is actually going to be a part of my next article, which is another reflection on friendship—so stay tuned. For my Reading Reflection, I just couldn’t resist an excerpt that articulates one of my favorite themes for the Christian—the gospel’s role in our spiritual growth. All of us wonder, as we struggle to mature in the faith, how does sanctification work? But the question that must arise now is one of method or mode. We are all agreed that we want to grow in godliness and that it’s God’s plan to grow us in this way, but exactly how does that happen? Are there certain perspectives that we should adopt that will enable us to more fully experience this grace? Are there other perspectives that will tend to make the growing slower, more difficult? Here’s where gospelized sanctification will change our perspective. The gospel tells us that Jesus’ life has been given for us and to us. His holy desires have been implanted in our hearts. We’re one with him through the agency of the Holy Spirit. Meditating on these truths will energize our pursuit of godliness because our belief that we are in union with Christ “is the key to overcoming sin in our lives…When any of us lose sight of our privileged position as a result of our union with Christ, we lose our ability to resist sin.” Our union with Christ should refresh our hearts with joy and strengthen our faith to enable us to fight for holiness. Realizing that he has loved us so much that he has made us one with himself should engender fervent love in our hearts, resulting in fervent obedience. The truth of the gospel—that we are “in” him—isn’t meant only for those who are beginning the Christian life. It is meant for all of us every day, whether we’ve walked with him for a few weeks or many decades (114-115). We want a list of the top ten ways to be a better Christian. We want to show God and others all the reasons we are “up there” on the Christian living chart. Or, we beat ourselves up when we see the reality of our lack of holiness. Did you think you would be much further along on your walk with the Lord in this point of your life? I know I hoped I would. Are there some sins in your life that you thought you would not be dealing with still?  Yes for me, and there have been many more revealed to me that I never realized I was perpetrating. The thing is, if we look to ourselves to “get godlier,” we will be in despair. The gospel is not something we cash in for our justification, and then get to the dirty work of cleaning up our act for God. I need the gospel preached to me every day—by others and myself. As I hear this glorious news, my eyes turn from their inward gaze to the astounding beauty of my perfect savior. I am reminded of my true position in him. It is the joy that wells up from Christ’s love that motivates me. It is his Spirit that changes my heart’s desires. Sanctification doesn’t look the way that we expect. I didn’t expect to be more broken in my growth. I didn’t expect my idea of perfect to be so convoluted. But it is. Jesus Christ is perfect. And he will perfect all his people.  He is revealing to me (slowly) who the true Aimee really is. And I can’t look anywhere else to find her.