"Institutions help us in two different ways. Institutions (1) aid us in survival and (2) they help us achieve a sense of significance and purpose.
"For example, your workplace provides you with (1) a paycheck and (2) a way to achieve self-esteem by becoming 'successful.'
"Driven by these fears--survival and self-esteem--we become beholden to these institutions and organizations. We come to idolatrously serve the principalities and powers because they address and reduce our deepest anxieties about material survival and our quest for success, significance and self-esteem." -- Richard Beck
If we really, truly believe that Jesus has done everything for us, if we truly believe that "it is finished"--why are we hanging on so hard to so many things besides Jesus?
I don't mean the bad stuff, like SIN.
I mean the good stuff, which can so easily get to be like SIN.
The trying hard. The being a good example. The fabulous ministry. The beautiful image.
Because (we foolish Galatians, who has deceived us) all too often we do seem to think that having begun by God's grace we can indeed carry on in our works. (Galatians 3:1-3) It seems to be the human condition, to make a rule and try hard while wearing our beautiful masks of competence and perfection.
Maybe we start out with good motivations, but after a while, it all turns into What I Must Do To Be Safe.
I love the quote above from Richard Beck. I think it's SO TRUE: we make idols out of things that we think will save us/keep us safe.
He's talking about making idols out of institutions like career, country, or church.
But I think we make idols out of relationships as well. Our husbands. Our parents. Our children. Our friends.
We tie our survival and self-esteem to whoever makes us feel successful and significant.
A husband with just the right job, and a fabulous side ministry, who worships the ground I walk on. Kids with amazing achievements, and not one of them rebellious or with bad hair. Parents who approve and applaud. Friends who admire us, or who need us so desperately.
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels--a plentiful harvest of new lives. John 12:24
It just makes me wonder: what kernel of wheat in my life never, ever gets to produce a harvest, because I'm so tied to that kernel for my survival and significance?
What or who am I hanging onto, because I'm too afraid of the dying part, too afraid to let it fall?
See, I don't think that "it is finished" is just a thing that happened long ago to Jesus.
I think Jesus is not only opening the way of salvation for us on the Cross; he's also showing us how to walk our lives out every day.
Here are some of the things I've taken away so far on our journey through the Seven Last Words this Lenten season:
Receive from the fountain, and forgive.
Welcome the ones who want to be "with me."
Stay with the suffering.
Love each other through.
Be willing to behold, even though it hurts.
Pour out your deepest hurts to God.
Let your stony heart be broken.
Admit to your thirst, and let the Living Water fill you up.
And now, here's this one:
Sometimes it's time to say "it is finished."
I don't have any specific idea what that means in my life right now, but these are the words I find here at the foot of the Cross today:
Hold it all loosely, and be willing to drop it when it's time.
Let it fall, let it die, let the harvest come.