Saturday, March 28, 2009

Titus 3

Verses 4-7 are where I just got hung up meditating because in the NLT they are in quotes. I wonder what that indicates in the Greek. I think Paul is quoting a phrase that he repeats a lot when he teaches because it is such a lovely and smooth way to open up the concept of the power of grace. But read it slowly and carefully from the NASB, the most word-for-word literal translation:

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

There are some interesting pictures in this description. What it's saying about salvation is a little different from the repeat-the-magic-prayer American gospel. First God saved us based on His kindness, not based on works. Check. We get that part right. Next the Holy Spirit washes us and gives us a brand new start. That's what the regeneration part means. We get that right too. But the salvation statement doesn't stop there. After that initial clean-up and reconciliation, there is a daily, or often in my case, moment-by-moment renewal that I need to let the Holy Spirit do in me. God generously poured His Spirit and got us all sudsy and foamy and shiny when we put our faith in Christ. But we like the "being made heirs" get-out-of-hell-free part a lot better than the justification part. I have parts of me I kind of like and don't want to have knocked into alignment to be like Christ.

It reminds me of Susan. I once had a brand new custom-built home. A woman named Susan cleaned it for me weekly. Because the house started off in perfect condition, when Susan cleaned it each week, it looked amazing. But now I live in an older house. It clearly has never had a Susan. Over thirty years, junk and grime had built up (particularly in the master bathroom) that just won't budge. But when we remodeled our bathroom, it became new again. Now I don't even really have to work hard at all to keep it looking really nice. Before, I could have scrubbed all day with bleach and acid and it would still look decroded.

Jesus makes us brand new through grace. And that welcomes the Holy Spirit in. We must allow him consistent access to every part of our home to keep it in that "like new" condition. We can never scrub up the old us quite enough. Only new is really perfectly clean. And our efforts aren't what it needs. It needs the powerful one-time regeneration of the power of the Holy Spirit and the daily work He does in us for renewal. If we keep some rooms closed off from His power, they don't stay pristine. They get dusty, then cobwebby, then faded and dingy, and ultimately musty and gross.

Susan passed away in an accident. I will never have that kind of perfectly clean home again. But I want that kind of freshly-washed heart. I loved walking in the door and smelling the Pine Sol knowing Susan had been there. That's what I want my life to be like to others. And that's the kind of home I want my heart to be for God.


Bea said...

Good one----May our dear, sweet creator, King make us new every morning. I enjoyed Susan's attention to my brand new custom dream home too. (Next door to my first grandson), but moving on to the next step God had planned for me was equally as excited. This morning, I eagerly await His next instructions for me. His ways always exceed mine, but I love His attenton to every detail, just like Susan.