greater love than this.......
Satan has deceived us in so many ways. He is the deceiver....and not only is he the deceiver but that is what he does (duh) :)....in fact it is what he does all the time....deceives people. He takes the most wonderful things someone, any of us, can do, twists them, distorts and makes them something that God never intended.....something ugly, something that locks us into guilt, brings us into a new prison, some other form of bondage.
Let's look at laying down our lives for a moment. Obviously, for Christians, we see that as Jesus dieing for us.....I know that I know that I know that He gave His life for me....for Philip. He loved me with that greater love and I have responded to that love and now love Him more than anything else that is. His love has made it possible for me, in turn, to love others more than I love myself.
I want to illustrate this in a non-spiritual sense though, and try to make it something we can really grab hold of and break thru Satan's deception about this once and for all. Be aware that if Satan can't keep it from happening (like he tried unsuccessfully to do with Jesus sacrifice of His life on the cross for us).....next best thing, the next deception, is that we need to work our butts off for the rest of our lives to pay Him back and end up in a bondage of working for Jesus instead of enjoying our relationship with Him.....feeling guilty all the time because we have not lived up to some standard of getting up earlier to spend more and more time with Him, praying more, studying more, reading the bible more, witnessing more, doing more good things and then more good things.....and always falling short of the mark......does that sound familiar?
The Lord speaks to me oftentimes when I visualize something in a dramatic portrayal, especially in the movies. That is what happened when I saw what I am talking about above....... I saw it so realistically that I wept when I watched Saving Private Ryan the 4th time....ok....I'm a little slow but eventually I get there.
Great story line...during World War II the 5 Sullivan brothers were on the same ship that was sunk in the Pacific and all 5 boys were dead. The War Dept determined never to allow something like that to happen again. In the movie, someone picks up on the fact that 4 brothers (the Ryan's) have participated in D day in different places but 3 are already dead and one is missing. General Marshall sends a squad of men who will now have to lay down their lives in order to try to first find what happened to Private Ryan and then, if he is still alive, get him out of the front lines, out of the war and literally Save Private Ryan.
I think you can already catch the drift here. Many men.... most of the squad and many others will die in the process, laying down their lives to save one other man's life....a guy named Ryan.
The last of those to die....Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks)....is laying there on the bridge where they made their final stand, and then are rescued by the arrival of the allied forces, just in time to keep Ryan (Matt Damon) from being killed along with any others that were still alive. Ryan is standing in front of the Captain who tries to say something to Ryan. Ryan bends over so Miller can whisper in his ear........earn this.....then with his final breath repeats....earn it!
I hope you can see this. When Jesus expired on the cross, among His final words, He simply said it is finished ..... never, ever said to us.....earn this.
The deceiver has.....over and over again.....told us to earn what Jesus did in giving His life for you.......it is so implanted by Satan in our religious systems, that even those that proclaim the loudest that that "it is by faith we are saved, not by works" are right there with the others telling me all that I now need to do now that I have accepted what He did for me on the cross.
I was an actor for 15 years. I could see every emotion roaring thru Matt Damon's head as he wrestled with those words he had just heard uttered....earn this....earn it....
There is a closeup of Matt Damon that slowly changes into the now elderly Private Ryan.....he is standing before the grave of Captain Miller... Ryan's wife is back quite a few yards and then back even further you see his family, the fruit of some 50 years since the war....his children, his grand children... (in theatre, this is called a tableau...I know we are being set up) I mean this guy has obviously used the gift of his life well, they are all dressed well, they had the means to all go to France, we are looking across the fields of white crosses where thousands of young men are buried, who gave their lives that others might live. He must have enjoyed every one of those past 50 years since that day on the bridge and just lived thankful and free......or did he?
He kneels down in front of the grave stone and pours out a heart full of guilt and anguish......over trying to earn the gift of life for some 50 odd years. The actor was incredible. I saw it in his face and I heard it in every word that followed. See if you can hear it as well.
"Every day....I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge.....I tried to live my life the best I could.....I hope that it was enough... I hope that at least in your eyes, I've earned what all of you have done for me...." He stands, salutes the grave, his wife comes to him....they look at each other....he says to her "Tell me I've lived a good life... (so sadly he looks at her....she says "What?" He responds: "Tell me I'm a good man...." She says: "You are" There is nothing in the face of the actor that says that this is an answer for him, as he slowly and sadly turns and they walk back towards the family.
We do not have to earn anything. Just enjoy each day with Him. No guilt. Nothing to do. Let all that earn it stuff go.....