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No Hoops

by on March 15, 2013

“That if you confess with your mouth, ”Jesus is Lord,“ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

For the past few weeks, Candace and I have set the alarms a bit earlier and hit the pavement instead of hitting the coffee pot. We are in training for a 5K sponsored by World Concern. Part of our training regimen includes the use of a piece of technology that helps us to log our training distances and times so we can compare days and look for signs of improvement. This technology is a blessing! At the end of each run, a pre-recorded Voice speaks, that cheers me on and compliments me on my work. It encourages me to do more, next time. While on the road, I think about that Voice. And honestly, I am afraid that should my performance somehow not live up to the standards the Voice, I will not find favor.

Crazy. I know.

I feel the same sense of guilt on the mornings the call of my pillow is stronger than the call to run in the rain. I feel as though I have failed, in some sense, and am not really committed to the training task. Sometimes, I feel like being harder on myself the next time I run to make up any “lost ground” I feel that may exist.

Crazy. I know.

But the pressure to perform and my feelings of guilt help me to understand just how easy it could be, to become a religious runner. There are plenty of hoops at my disposal which I could jump through to help me become a better runner, at least, in my mind. In a broader sense, I have a deeper understanding of how easy it would be to become religious in any capacity of my life. There are hoops-a-plenty beckoning me. Hoops make me feel good about myself, my accomplishments, my performance, and my ability to do anything without the need to rely upon anyone else.

When Paul speaks to the Roman Christians about their placing of faith in Christ Jesus, he is reminding them that the gift of eternal life comes without a hint of religiosity. I wonder if the Holy Spirit moved Paul to pen these words in the light of Jesus teachings in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt 12:34 & Luke 6:45). The mouth speaks of the good in the heart, and in this case, Paul is specifically referencing the moment of salvation. With a new heart, comes a new song. No hoops. Jesus did the work, I merely placed the trust.

The Lord certainly wants us to have an abundant life. He certainly desires for us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, He certainly loves us so much that he doesn’t wish to leave us in the same state in which he found us the moment we first believed. He just doesn’t want us to become religious about this new growth. He’d prefer it to be relational growth. A heart filled with joy, singing through a mouth of Spirit-driven obedience. No hoops. No guilt when you oversleep on a Sunday morning, forget to pray before a meal, or don’t practice your memory verse for the week.

Crazy. I know. Grace is nothing the wisdom of man could ever come up with.

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