Saturday, June 5, 2010
God's YES makes possible our NO
The Gospel is God's YES and it is the powerful liberating force that releases sinners from their captivity, from their bondage to sin, and from the result of that sin, namely, death. But we renounce sin not with the yes of the will to God (decision theology) but with the fruit of the Spirit who eases our resistance to the Father's will reflected in Jesus Christ. The Spirit works in us to receive His care -- the ultimate of that care being our redemption through Him who took upon Himself all our sin, unrighteousness, punishment, and death. This is manifest not primarily by our YES to the things of God but by our NO -- no to sin, no to self, no to evil, no to unrighteousness, and no to wrong.
If all you want to do is to reign in behavior, the commandments, the fear of being caught, and the fear of being punished are much more effective and efficient than the Gospel. But if you want to change the desire of the heart against God and the things of God, the Law is powerless. It can put boundaries along the side of the path to keep us on that path but it cannot make us want to get where that path is going. Only the Gospel can do this.
The Gospel works not simply by teaching us to say yes to the things of God but to say no to the things of sin, rebellion, the devil, our flesh, and death. The power of this NO is not to be underestimated. I noticed that on Christmas Eve we hear the words of St. Paul from Titus 2:11-14 -- at the very time we tend to indulge ourselves we hear the call to NO... to renounce what is evil and wrong and to live self-controlled lives... In other words, if the manger and cross and empty tomb are God's YES, the fruit of that YES in our lives, is this NO to sin, to unrighteousness, and to self-indulgence... and to live self-controlled lives.
It is certainly something heard less among many Christian clergy and churches who more or less glorify the desires of our hearts by teaching us how to get what we want from God and from this life -- there is not much "no" in this proclamation. We love it, though, since we would prefer a God who does what we want than to renounce our wills and trust in His. But such a Gospel is ultimately a fake Gospel that offers us nothing at all. Its empty promise is certain to disappoint us sooner or later but the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ will deliver to us more than our minds can imagine.
God's YES makes possible our NO... now that is something to think about...