[Return to Your Fortress]
I have a dream. (I know, I know, this isn’t an original way to begin, but nonetheless it’s true.)
I have a dream to get organized and keep our home clean. (I’ll admit it–this is one of my more pathetic dreams.)
Fortunately, on-going health challenges, and God’s will for my husband and I, are pulling me in a totally different direction.
When I do manage to catch my tail, being organized doesn’t last too long. As fatigue knocks me down, things can start to pile up once again, and all of my work is quickly undone. I’m forced to start over, and perfection seems just too far away.
At times, living with a chronic illness can leave you feeling as if you’re a prisoner in your own body or your own home. (Sometimes both.) Even if you don’t have an illness you may feel trapped in your circumstances.
It’s so easy for me to fixate on what I believe that I’m lacking or missing out on. It’s then that I can become discouraged and start crawling the walls. If God were silent, I’d be in real trouble, but thankfully He isn’t.
Sin itself is a Prison
Sin holds us captive and separates us from God, but Jesus is, and always has been, a friend of sinners. He has the authority to forgive sin and set the captive free! (Mark 2:1-12)
“But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.” –Galations 3:22
Some Doubted Jesus Authority
Some of Jesus’ followers even had a difficult time recognizing who their teacher truly was: God in the flesh. (John 1:1-4)
Jesus even had to publicly rebuke the towns in which He performed most of His miracles because they wouldn’t turn to Him and away from their sin. (Matthew 11:20-21)
Nevertheless, we also have many Scriptural examples of those who did see Jesus’ as having all authority to forgive repentant sinners.
These people proved, by their changed hearts and their great love, that they understood just how much they’d been forgiven. (Luke 7:36-50)
When a woman who had lived a life of sin found out that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. “As she stood behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. (Luke 7:38)
When Simon the Pharisee saw this he said to Himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is–that she is a sinner.” (Luke 7:39)
Simon’s Words Reveal Two Things
Simon doubted Jesus’ authority, and he didn’t understand grace. Being a Pharisee, Simon’s understanding was that in order to be considered clean and worthy of God, a person had to keep to the letter of the law. Infact before Jesus death and reserection people were bound by the law.
However, Jesus brought a different message. He came to seek and save the lost, even saying, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Luke 5:31-32)
The Pharisees believed that their own wisdom and good deeds could save them, but Jesus death and reserection would usher in a new agreement between man and God. Those who are lead by the Spirit of God are no longer ruled by sin which brings death. (Romans 7:5-8:10 ) This new agreement would do away with perfectionism.
This may seem confusing when we consider Jesus statement, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
This isn’t a contradiction. The believer is taught to press-on towards the goal. By doing so we continue to draw close to the Lord in all sincerity and truth, and it’s the Holy Spirit who works in us to mature (or perfect) us in Christ. Even in our prisons, or our perceived prisons, God is working powerfully to finish what He started.
“We proclaim [Jesus], admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. Unto this also I toil, striving according to His energy, working in me in power.” –Colossians 1: 28-29
Those in the towns that wouldn’t repent, couldn’t repent.
These people were too proud and wise in their own eyes. They were spiritually poor, but were unable to recognize their poverty. (Spiritual Blindness)
When I impatiently begin to crawl the walls, it’s then that I recognize my own spiritual poverty. It’s also in these moments that my eyes fall once again on Jesus.
Even though my dream to perfect our home seems impossible, I’ll continue to strive for this goal no matter how many times I get knocked down. (The clutter would continue to build if I didn’t.) It’s no different than our pressing on towards the goal. (Philippines 3:14) By pressing on we mature in Christ, even if we don’t reach that goal of perfection.
I’m encouraged to know that God’s work continues even when we feel as if we’re stuck. We truly are prisoners of hope!
“As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.” Zechariah 9:12
“They are blessed who realize their spiritual poverty, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. –Matthew 5:3