What if the Gospel frees us from any and all expectations we place on one another? What would it look like when my affections find their fullness in the finished work of Jesus, and I no longer have to make functional saviors of those around me? How would this impact current and future relationships?
These are questions I have been asking myself recently in light of a conversation I had with a good friend of mine. She asked me a very particular and pointed question: "How does grace repair a broken heart?"
Here is the conversation that ensued and I'd like to share it with you.
“Grace is you and I getting what we do not deserve. We do not deserve the sovereign love of God found in the redeeming actions of Jesus. That grace is God's nearness. Psalm 34.18. God is near to the broken hearted. Why? They have nowhere else to go but Jesus. It broke the heart of God to crush His Son. In a small way, our suffering and broken heartedness is an identification with that. He opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. And, in my experience, I feel no more humility than when my heart is crushed. It is then that Jesus becomes sweeter. In some transformational way that only the Holy Spirit does, God shapes and molds us with His nearness in those moments, and we never return the same. We think we do not have it together with a broken heart. Good. Best place to be. It is a recognition that is true of every human being on earth, from Bill Gates to the homeless man living under the I30 bridge. I am broken and I simply do not have it together. It is a simple identification of saying this: I'm broken. I need a savior because I cannot fix me. I've tried time and time and time again with the same results. Have pity on me, Jesus. That humility, according to the Scriptures, moves the heart of God towards you. You are acknowledging the very thing you need in your broken heart -- the very heart of God for you as displayed in the Gospel of Jesus. And it is His gospel that is our strength. So, with a broken heart, we cry out to Jesus even more for His grace and His nearness. And He hears the voice of His sheep and is moved by their cries.
I'm no longer certain that placing expectations on someone or myself is gracious because we are both fallen creatures in need of redemption through Christ alone. So, if I put all my expectations on Him and allow His precious Holy Spirit to daily draw me unto Him, if eternity is daily stamped on my heart, then all my affections are on Him. This means I do not crush others under the weight of perfection that they will never achieve. But there is deep grace because we understand that we are fallen creatures that only Jesus Himself can redeem. It is all on Him to do that work. Our obedience is no longer out of duty or obligation, but delight. He has loved us so perfectly.”
"What does this do? It means we are now free to delight in a person for who they are, not what they bring to the table. They are united with Christ in His death.... all of their sin... all of their brokenness... all of their shortcomings... nailed to the cross and buried in the grave. And they are also united with Christ in His resurrection. So everything that is true of Christ -- Loved by the Father, lover of our souls, made alive by the Spirit of God according to Romans 8.11, adopted because of Jesus -- all of that is true of the believer. So i'm free to accept and love others for who they are for they are like me -- fallen. Yet, I'm redeemed and my delight is in the finished work of Jesus. And because this is true, and the effectual nature of the Gospel has so shaped my affections, I'm free to delight in those who are in Christ for they are like me. Hurts, dreams, failures, bruises, disappointments, achievements, scars, healing.... in the finished work of Jesus and our unity with Him, I'm free to delight in others for who they are. We are no different. We are children of God because God has adopted us through the finished work of Jesus into the same family."
Consider this: If the affections of my heart are so attuned to the finished work of Jesus, and others are in Christ, then my affections should be attuned to delight in others who are in Jesus as well.
This is what it means to delight in Gospel Freedom with one another. This is how we live out 2 Corinthians 5.17-21:
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[a] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[b] the world to himself,not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
How does this affect my idol for the approval of others? It crushes it in two ways:
1. I'm free to delight in Gospel Freedom from my idol of earning approval because Jesus already approves of me in His finished work.
2. I'm free to delight in Gospel Freedom from my idol of others earning my approval because Jesus already approves of them in His finished work.
I'm learning that this is the reconciled heart. And I'm so thankful that my friend asked me that question. It has taught me a tremendous amount about delighting in Gospel Freedom.