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Easy Yoke Part 2

Walking down the beach yesterday, enjoying a delightful time to myself in the sunshine along the edge of the waves, I encountered an unseen but very powerful jellyfish. I had just begun to walk into the water to cool off at about the furthest point in my walk and zap! It truly was like being electrocuted. My arms tingled for most of my return walk and there were moments I wondered if I’d be one of those stories in the news of weird fatal reactions to otherwise mild ocean encounters. Today, the blotchy marks that appeared last night were joined by a long straight bruise along the top of my foot and side of my ankle. Not cool you tenacled blissful moment invader!

Tonight, as I was supposed to be falling asleep, it occurred to me that this collision with the jellyfish is the perfect illustration of sin’s effect on me. I was thinking about it because just tonight, in an otherwise pleasant setting, I encountered my unseen but very powerful sin as it took it’s effect on those around me and left me feeling electrocuted. The exposure of this potentially lethal reality in my heart left me shaken and breathless, but without that cool spray the lifeguards had handy yesterday. I felt similarly disoriented as I was simultaneously “guilty as charged” and yet encountering the sin in others as well. And here is where that “not yet” of yesterday’s post (and the entire redemptive story in Biblical history) comes in today’s post.

But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10:12-14

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4

The now but not yet: there is NOW no condemnation (not because I am simply misunderstood or misjudged, but even in my unmistakable guilt) because Jesus’ one sacrifice grabs all my selfish neglect of the needs of others, my harsh and haughty words, my condescension and superiority, my disdain and disinterest and includes them in His own self-sacrifice. He has NOW declared me perfect in Him even as I have NOT YET been made holy, perfect, complete and lacking nothing as an exact representation of Jesus. Will I run to Him with these condemnable moments and receive His covering which is so much better than jellyfish sting spray? His yoke is easy and His burden is light, or as the Ugandans apparently paraphrase His words, “My luggage is not heavy.” Tonight my luggage got really heavy really quickly and here is why: I was trying to process my own guilt, shame and identity and I was trying to sort through the processing of others in their guilt, shame and identity and I was worrying about their view of me in the process and I was feeling rotten about my lack of genuine, selfless love for them as exposed in the whole thing. The sentence itself is long just as the burden was great and the yoke was impossibly mis-tailored. (Is that even a word?)

Has He asked me to carry any of that luggage? He reminds me, even now, that He is the only one who is just and who justifies. It is His Spirit that leads me (and others) into all righteousness and truth, who loves genuinely through me and who takes me to Jesus and hides me in Him. His yoke for me is easy because He is the author and perfecter of my faith, not me. His burden for me is light because He became and owned all of my sin so that I can be called His righteousness. He has promised to complete the work He has begun in me and will do the same for others. I can lay that burden down.

The now but not yet is so readily seen on vacation where we taste not only the good things to come in terms of rest and feasting, but I face (even here at the beach with those I love the most) my desperately great need for a Redeemer and am brought face to face with a very great Jesus who joyfully, willingly, patiently, gently, compassionately, kindly and tirelessly meets my desperate need.

The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:15-25

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