i tend to like the “pluses” in life. Carmel macchiato PLUS whip cream. yep. Subaru outback PLUS heated seats. absolutely. dinner PLUS dessert. a necessity. i like the “pluses” in life. especially when it comes to food and comfort (hence the whip cream and heated seats).
but recently i’ve been wondering if these comfort “pluses” have carried over into my spiritual life. like what happens when it becomes the Bible plus? or church plus? or the most terrifying of them all… Jesus plus? recently i have been studying Galatians and (honestly) have been getting my “Christian” butt kicked…a lot. Paul says things like:
“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort?Have you experienced so much in vain–if it really was in vain? (3:1-4)
“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God–or rather are known by God–how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? (4:8-9)”
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (5:1).”
for Paul and the Galatians it was all about slavery. the slavery of the customs or traditions or habits or “religion” or whatever else was added to the gospel of Christ. it was about falling back into the slavery of our “jesus plus theologies.” making the cross not sufficient in itself.
and well, if i stop and really look at my “Christian-y” life i wonder if it looks like that. am i really living a “Jesus only” or a “Jesus plus” life? am i living like Jesus will somehow love me more if i am nicer, more obedient, more patient, more kind, and more patient some more (seeing that i’m 18 weeks preggo with a toddler running around- these all are things i’m running short on)… but really am i? am i believing that somehow yes i love God and believe what he says BUT…. but what about those other people in my life i am trying so stinking hard to impress? or what about how hard i’m working to prove something? or what about my plans…what if those get sideways and things don’t play out like i have worked so hard for them to? what happens then?
the difficult question to ask is “am i really living a jesus only life?” a life set on fully embracing and living out what Jesus did on the cross? period. no pluses. just jesus. just the cross. just grace. just love. it’s a tough question to ask & an even tougher question to really be honest about.
but Paul challenges us against this slavery; against the “jesus plus theologies.” he says:
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be FREE. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (5:13-14).”
how encouraging is that?! we were called NOT to slavery or a never-ending list of “pluses” but to FREEDOM. freedom to live fully and powerfully in Christ alone. freedom to love and serve and be united to one another. freedom (not slavery) is what the cross is all about. & to me, if fully lived out, that is such an extremely challenging and yet liberating thought.