Dog lessons

I like dogs.  Most dogs like me.  I have two cats…and that is the end of my affectionate statement regarding cats.

I have had two Schnauzers in my life.  Schultzie, affectionately named after Schultz on Hogan’s Heroes, lived a good long life, protecting our home with bark tones that I’m sure kept thieves and solicitors at bay.  She slept on the back of my legs when I’d come home from college on weekends and crash on the couch (yes, while mom did my laundry — somehow, the 3 hr round trip once a month seemed like an economical way to keep my clothes clean).  We had to put her to sleep several years ago and it surprised me how difficult it was.

Tucker is the other Schnauzer.  She’s 14 and was the first “addition” to mine and Jan’s home back in the day.  She’s been smart and particular, utilizing the same breed-laden bark to ward off evil minions (and golfers).  In the past few years, though, her health has declined.  She has diabetes and is going deaf and blind.  So far, she’s not been apparently miserable enough for us to “put her down” but I’m afraid that day is creeping nearer.

With her illness, she is incontinent, and wears a diaper.  I know, but the other option just isn’t viable yet.  It’s sad really.  She took to house-training within days of being in our home at 8 weeks old.  No accidents…until the diabetes.  Now, the sight thing is just sad.

This morning she was full of energy, and ready to go out of the bedroom.  She first ran headlong into the door and then patiently waited in front of a wall as if it was about to open to allow her to exit.  Sad.  Admittedly, I almost giggled, except it was just too pitiful.

It was in this moment that a passage of Scripture came to mind…

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

(Romans 10:1-4 ESV)

The context of Romans 9-11 deals with Paul’s exhortation to the Jews in the Church at Rome to avoid pride in their nationality because salvation is through Christ alone, trusting that God administers grace, out of love, in the way He sees fit.  In Chapter 11, Paul addresses the Gentiles in the church to avoid a similar pride in His more present emphasis in delivering the gospel to the Gentiles.  The above passage expresses Paul’s love for the Jew and his desire to see them saved, but it’s difficult because they are energetically establishing their own righteousness as a standard for acceptance.

Essentially, they are standing at a wall waiting for it to open.

Intent, intensity, even sincerity is not sufficient to save.  There is no merit in any human (Jew or Gentile) that is “worth” saving and accepting by a perfect and holy God.  Even if a person admits to doing sinful things, their best intentions to work hard to seek God will not overwhelm God’s holiness to allow them entrance into His kingdom.  It is zeal, but without knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

See, only Christ’s righteousness counts.

God has been and ever will be, perfect and holy.  His holy standard includes every intent of the heart as well as every action.  Therefore, every religious deed, every selfless act, that is performed with the ambition to promote a righteousness of self is damnable.  We may understand that Jesus died for our sin, and undeservedly so.  But we must also realize that this was after living a life we could never live.  We are saved as much by His life as we are by His death.  They are inseparable.  His resurrection seals it.

We who believe, must be reminded again and again that what Christ said on the cross, “It is finished”, is not a statement limited to His death.  Christ satisfied God’s righteous requirements in heart, intent, action…every way in life.  As well, He satisfied God’s righteous requirements for sinful wrath in dying a death we deserved.  Then He rose.

Remember, there is nothing “bad” that can keep you from His kingdom, and there’s nothing “good” you can do to enter in.  Christ is all in all.  Remember that He is all-sufficient in righteousness and, therefore, you are acceptable to God because Jesus is acceptable to God.  It’s a glorious indicative.  He are perfect and acceptable because Jesus is in you!

But, remember Hebrews 10:14…

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

In giving Himself, He gives Himself to your perfection.  He will make you into what you already are!  This means that you do have something to do.  Because God is holy, you must be holy.  Positionally, you are.  Practically, it’s being worked out.  The evidence of your position in Him is the practical working out of holy living.  This is the imperative.  You must obey the command to be holy.

…but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
(1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV)

Have zeal with knowledge of the gospel.  Wake up and endure with enthusiasm that you are already accepted by Him and there’s nothing you can do on any given day to make Him let go…or hold on more tightly.  This joy-filled indicative should drive us to live vibrantly interacting with our securing Savior.  We should have more discipline and be more vigorous in evangelism than those who believe doing so gains them entrance to heaven.  The joy of spiritual disciplines is found in knowing that you are equipped by His grace to do everything that pleases Him.

If you are weary in your Christian walk, my guess it’s because your indicatives and imperatives are mixed up.  My guess is, you feel about as much excitement as a dog staring at a wall waiting for it to open…only after banging your head on a few “closed doors.”  Look to Christ, His life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.  In Him, you find, as revealed in the Scriptures, all that you need to live with great joy and zeal, full of the knowledge of the glory of His grace!

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