Don’t you love that title? Can’t you see John Lithgow in Footloose saying “you need to be prepared for the day of reckoning is near!” The concept is so ingrained in our western culture that you just can’t get free of a bunch of broken paradigms. Still I press on and try to at least create an environment that promotes asking questions.
In the asking we are exercising faith. When we ask we are in a conversation. Our relationship (conversation) with Him is our reason to keep breathing. Hanging onto a “faith” that is based on “data” with defendable arguments founded in fundamentalist interpretations of text, isn’t faith at all. That is called doctrine or dogma. When we make that doctrine and dogma and tradition our justification for eternal security we have missed God’s purpose for our existence. We were made to be His children and are already His children and can know our sonship in Jesus. We were made to be adopted kids in an awesome family. In this family we are included and accepted and assured. Our eternal certainty is in God. He has done any and everything that we “think” we need done so we can know, without a doubt, that our afterlife (and this life) is with Him. That has always been His plan for us. It took a cross and a dead Jesus for us to see His heart. It took our “rejecting Him to death” to know that we can’t possibly choose correctly. When presented with God, as a man, we chose to kill Him. Even in that moment God shows His heart for us by forgiving us all. Now we have that same Jesus in us and with us and in union with us. We now can know the heart of the Father. We can now know His intense and engorged (wrath) insistence (judgment) to have His kids realize their inclusion in His family (justice).
There is nothing on earth or in heaven or any other mysterious place that will keep God from getting His way. We will know we are His children. We will be confronted with the reality of our inclusion and the glory of an unveiled Jesus. It will likely be overwhelming and awesome at the same time. Still there is one thing left that has to be overcome…us. We have to come to grips with our death. We have to let go of our grip on ourselves to know our life. We have to release our grip on our desire to be justified in our rightness to know our inclusion in His family. We have to free our grip on the “contract” that we think we hold that declares “but God I did all this and know all this and have passed the test of information retention and…me me me…so you have to accept me.” Jesus did it all. He already did it all. We can just let go and accept the good news.
Still it is hard for us. We want to hang on for dear life to what we know as “right” so we have some certainty in our heads. We have this overwhelming desire to defend our position based on our “certainty of information” so we can argue our rightness. None of that matters. Only Jesus matters. That is why we need our Day of Reckoning. We need to embrace our death and just let go of our life. We need to trust God explicitly for everything and anything. We need to let Him work from the inside out to grow our faith to trust Him more. This “dying” is our “reckoning.” We are “measuring and assessing” based on Jesus and His faith. Our inconsistencies with His nature are the very “mind renewing” revelations that will set us free. It isn’t more will power that we need it is more faith. It isn’t more determination we need it is more trust. It isn’t more self flagellating, self-deprecation, or shame or guilt or condemnation we need…we need Jesus. His life instead of ours … not as and act of will but an act of dying. His renewing of our mind will change everything about how we perceive and interpret and believe and forgive and love and trust. It isn’t our data that impresses. It is our tree that produces.
OK, how about a quick example?
Now this may not seem like a Biblical example but maybe we need to expand our vision to see beyond our limitations. I experienced this in graduate school. I was taking a class in aerodynamic theory. This was a class that stressed derivations of mathematical expressions that could be used to solve for aerodynamic systems. You know…lift and drag and flying stuff. We tossed around big names like Navier–Stokes and worked Taylor series expansions and all that really theoretical geeky stuff. Each day the professor (who had this awesome German accent) would step up to the board and start with “today we will begin with a differential control volume” and away we went. He started every derivation from the same place. He drew a box that had arrows going in one side and flowing out the other side. He would then write down the relationships that were always true like conservation of momentum and mass. Now with assumptions and boundary conditions, away he went.
For the final we were required to derive any and all of the expressions we had in the class. I expected to have pages of derivations and substitutions and mathematical identities and trigonometric expressions all over the place. I was ready. Then it was time for the final. Yes there were pages and pages of derivations. Just think of memorizing a bunch of tricks and routines to reproduce the expected solution. You could call it the doctrine and dogma of derivations. I expected to be tested on that. Then, to my surprise, there was one more question which was actually 80% or so of the total grade. This question was about some flat plates with some fluid between them and some velocity of the plates and…what? This professor wanted me to find a number? I was really flustered and started looking through all my dogma. Nothing applied. Now what?
I had a moment. You know, one of those light bulb moments. In a flash I saw all those derivations in each class as the professor drew that annoying little box on the board and it hit me…I could do the same thing, maybe. I had to start from scratch and couldn’t count on any of my doctrines from before. The path to the solution and the answer were born out of a “new way of thinking.” I didn’t even realize that my mind had been renewed to think this way, but there it was. I had to “die” to my dogmas and doctrines. I had to trust what was in me. I had to have faith that the professor had prepared me. I had to let go of my grip on my past certainties and rightness to embrace the professors method. It was like we were working the problem together. His rightness was my guide.
Maybe that is too much of a stretch for you but I can see what “dying” looks like in that experience. I have so many others like that.
Freedom from alcohol? Dead to will power and alive to His healing.
Freedom from anger? Dead to trying harder and alive to His love.
Freedom from judgment? Dead to my list of qualifications and alive to His inclusion of His children.
Freedom from offense? Dead to my need to be right and alive to His compassion.
Freedom from fear of failing a test that I had studied for hours and hours and had practiced for and stayed up all night preparing for…dying to my idea of what the exam should look like and living in the certainty that I had actually learned something and not just memorized data. Whew…that was a mouthful.
Each of those “dying moments” is a Day of Reckoning. To Reckon something means to weigh it or measure it. The measuring rod is Jesus. The part of me that wants to hang onto my stuff is the part that needs to die. He is the anchor and foundation and rock. He isn’t waiting to give me a test to see how much data I memorized and how my dogma lines up with His expectations or how my doctrine compares to some “absolute” truth. That is preparing for a test that will never happen with a certainty and expectancy that is no better than our own will power. That isn’t faith. That isn’t Jesus.
His Day of Reckoning is our coming to terms with our death and His life. There will likely be a final Day of Reckoning. I would just as soon go ahead and get the dying part over with now. I can’t imagine what a shock to see Him in all His glory and have my need to be right standing in the way.
Want to be encouraged? Check out this short teaching. He makes it sound so simple.