I am super excited! There will be an eclipse on Sunday!!! Yaaaaay! I just love it when God shows off. Yeah, shows off.
Anyway, this is not why I am here today. I’m here because of that 2004 The Rock movie, Walking Tall. Now, I do not care what Rotten Tomatoes rated the movie. That movie is dope. When I told Mo-B that I get a lot of lessons from movies, this movies was in my thoughts.
This may propably be longer than I anticipated. Oh well…
Chris Vaughn, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, had major strings in his heart pulled when he returned to his hometown after a glorious military career, only to discover that the town had been taken over by thugs and drug dealers, and a lot of that under the cover of a casino that hid serious gambling and illicit activities. If you can, see the movie. I am not about to do a movie revieww for you. But just know he got beat up, got up, fought, and cleaned up his town. Shikena.
I can imagine the kind of character Chris had been brought up with while growing up. And then, he went off to join the Marines (or Army, or whatever) and learnt some more about honour. He really grew up into a fine young man. His reputation was clear to people in the town, and he really did not have anything to prove. His family loved him He had good friends. He was respected in the community. He had sympathy from some people who knew what the thugs did to him, and how he pursued justice without getting it.
If Chris Vaughn had decided to be on his own with all of his good character an all, no one would have troubled him. It was a town full of good people and good intentions. But nothing changed, and maybe the people had very good intentions and noble thoughts – it stayed inside them.
It took one man standing up, and walking tall,to get their attention, and to make the town people realise they already had a belly-full of the scumbags ruling their are and destroying their kids.
What Chris Vaugh did, that’s walking tall. He did not just have all that goodness on the inside, or all that character locked up in his muscles. He took a stand, and poured it all out. And by his actions, he gave credence and value to the qualities that were on his inside. That put him way ahead of all the other people in the town with good character and good intentions. He made it integrity and strong character valuable, respected, and desired.
I had to apply that to my life. I hear so many people people in the church coming down on folks who are trying to live good lives. You hear stuff like there’s nothing we can do to please God, because He already did it, or that no sin can hinder us from our relationship with God because it has all been cancelled forever. In fact, I’ve heard that if we sin, we don’t need to ask for forgiveness. We just go on. I have heard that once we are saved, we are forever saved, and nothing we do can stop us from getting the glory, even our sinful acts. I have heard that in this new covenant, God has given us NO COMMANDMENT to fulfil, and so we have received the gift of grace, and there is no obligation. We are FREE!
I am not here to lend credence, or otherwise, to these claims, but in my opinion, it leaves me wondering how that spurs people in Christ to get on with the work of living good lives that Jesus has secured for them. Besides, I didn’t know Jesus was joking when he commanded us to love, since they tell me there is no command.
In my mind, I think they mistake people who are trying to live a life of good works based on their faith, as legalistic people.
But then, what do I know? I am not one with revelation and insight so to speak. All I know is what I read from my Bible as much as I can. And that is probably an argument for experts.
For simple me however…
Ever since the Grace of God was taught to me, it has always left me with a burning desire to use it.It is a gift, isn’t it? My burning question has always been this: “With all the gamut of goodness that Grace has afforded me, the end of the past, and the hope of a glorious future beyond this earth, now that I am still here, what should I do to showcase this Grace at work in me?”
I look to Scripture regularly, and the best of teachers, from Paul to Peter to John to Jude, and Jesus Himself, leave me regularly with a desire to do good. To live good. To be the goodness I carry on the inside. They have taught me a life of no excuses, that does not sit around, but gets up and does the Father’s business. They have taught me the simple beauty of rejoicing in this magnificent gift of Grace as it directs me to do the things I was earlier incapable of.
Peter causes me to think every time I read 1 Peter 1. Verses 3-7 particularly serve me well. See:
God is very powerful because he is God. So he has given to us everything that we need to live always. We can do things that make God happy. This is possible because we know him. God has chosen us to be his people because he is so very great and so very good. Also, because of this, God has promised that he will do very great and valuable things on our behalf. As a result, you can become good like God. So, you can be free from wanting bad things that will destroy you… God has done this on your behalf. So you should not only believe Christ. You must also try very much to do always what is good. And you must try very much to know God more and more. You must not only know God, but you must rule yourselves properly also. You must not only rule yourselves properly, but you must continue to be patient and brave also.And you must not only be patient and brave,but you must always make God happy. You must do what God wants.You must not only make God happy, but you must be kind to each other also. You must love other Christians, as you would love your own brothers and sisters. And you must not only love other Christians, but you must love all people also. (EEV)
I have certain understandings when I read this. I have indeed all I that I need. My life is not only pleasant to God and i am reconciled to him. I have the power to do what I could not do before: please him. I can, and I should. And the reason I can is because he makes it possible.
In fact, I chose this simple translation to make sure we can all get it. The verse is quite self-explanatory, and Peter does not mince words.
Indeed, none of the Apostles minces words. They understood Grace, and they very well knew that being in this Grace is such a transformation that a person cannot ever remain the same. They also knew it was not some Harry Porter wave-the-wand kind of thing, so in all their teachings and epistles, they clearly laid it all out, how Christians who are now recipients of Grace ought to live.
Look through yourself. “Therefore, husbands love your wife…” “Do not walk in sin like the heathen do…” “Do not discriminate against poor people…” “Do not be hasty to teach…” “Humble yourselves before God…” “Do not speak evil against each other…” “Get rid of all evil behaviour…” “Keep away from worldly desires…” “Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbourss…” And there’s more. These people place an obligation of responsive obedience on all the recipients of Grace. Read your Bible some time…
Do not weaken me, by making me feel I am incapacitated and unable to do what can please Him. That very idea negates Grace
We can do new and wondrous things now, because we are saved by Grace. Look at it, the Bible does not say I can believe by the power of Christ strengthening. No. It says I can do. I. Can. Do. And because I do, and discipline myself to do, I am not legalistic. I am not trying to receive Grace. I am living out Grace, doing what God has empowered me to do. And if I feel I need a code of conduct for that, I am well within Grace to do so. It does not mean I am following the law. I just want to set my heart to please my God. I can do that now. Do not mistake my discipline for legalism. I know God loves me. Do not weaken me, by making me feel I am incapacitated and unable to do what can please Him. That very idea negates Grace. That very idea negates Grace. My discipline comes from the very belief that I can do. I. Can. Do
There is just a new way to live under Grace, and the Apostles brought it to life. They explained it all very well to the people. And it became clear. All they wanted us to do with everythin they wrote was for us to live worthy of Grace. No, not to live to earn it, but to live in a manner that places great value on this Grace, and on the reconciliation wwe have received from God. Not to receive and be laid back, but to do all to show that it is worth it.
Colossians 1:10 “Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God”;
Philippians 1:27 “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ”;
Ephesians 4:1 “Therefore I, a prisoner of the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God”.
There are many other strong other authorities I can quote, but i have already passed bar finals. Go and read your Bible.
But let it be understood:
Chris Vaughn had all the attributes of a good and courageous person. It would have amounted to nothing if he did nothing with all that raw deposit of goodness. In a society where morals and goodness were failing, it was only a matter of time before evil would be the new good. But he stood up, and showed forth his goodness and courage for all to see. And the eye of the people who watched, goodness and courage became valuable things to have. He walked tall, Chris Vaughn.
We should too, Christians. We should walk tall. We should walk worthy of this Grace we have received. Rather than preach people to stupor, we should live out Christ. Let him be seen, in our everyday life. Everyday. Let your light so shine before men.
We have a ready answer, when they ask. We live the way we do, because Christ died, and He lives. And we live, because He lives. And I do what I do, because that sacrifice gave me the power to do so, and because while all I have received is great, it does not compare to what is laid in store for me, holding fast to this calling.
Grace is a dare, and it dares us to walk tall. And I think if I don’t walk tall, I am actually denying the power of Grace.