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Sunday, December 5, 2010

"Prepare Ye the Way of The Lord"

"We have to prepare our hearts so Christ will come and make them His home."

"We have to make our selves ready for the Lord to come in."

"How can God live in us if we don't first clean out the impurities in our hearts and lives?"

Do these statements sound familiar to you? I've heard them, or statements like them, my whole life.

This morning, I was asked to read a couple of paragraphs at church for the second Sunday of Advent. It was about the voice crying in the wilderness "Prepare ye the way of the Lord!" It then went on to explain how we can do this in our own lives today (yay for Christians taking verses that have nothing to do with us and trying to apply them to us). It was all about cleaning and sweeping, levelling mountains and filling valleys and making our hearts ready to receive Jesus. I hadn't previewed it before I read it, and I kept wanting to stop and say "But......". (Don't worry, I refrained. Barely. ;))

So I've saved my "but" for my blog. :)

Do we really need to "prepare our hearts" before Jesus will enter them? Is this consistent with Scripture? Do we have to have everything in order for the Lord to come and commune with us?

I don't think so.

The God I know died for us while we were still sinners. The Jesus I worship comes to me and comes through for me when I'm still a mess. The Jesus I love comes charging through the crap of my life to find and save my heart. The Jesus I know came into a world that was completely UNprepared for Him, and was born in a barn. The God I serve died on a filthy cross, asking forgiveness for a crowd of people who spit on Him, tortured Him, and laughed at His pain. I love Him because He first loved me.

"For when we were still without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly. For God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

Isn't it amazing how much the simple gospel of redemption and sanctification in Christ alone has been taken over by a performance gospel? Even in a non-conservative church like mine.

Oswald Chambers said this:

"If we simply preach the effects of redemption in the human life instead of the revealed, divine truth regarding Jesus Himself, the result is not new birth in those who listen. The result is a refined religious lifestyle, and the Spirit of God cannot witness to it because such preaching is in a realm other than His."

Any time you try to put the effects of redemption before the Person of redemption, you get a perfromance-based gospel. The same goes for sanctification. The result? Legalism and shame. Because no matter what you do, you will never be good enough. Thus the endless, discouraging cycle of trying harder and failing.

My friends, you cannot clean your heart enough to make it "holy enough" for God. You cannot make yourself more acceptable to Him, make Him like you more, for you are already accepted because of Him. God doesn't wait until our hearts are "right with Him" before He comes and communes with us. Else He would never come. He saves us where we're at. He continues to sanctify us, not on our own merit, but because of His grace. His kindness draws us, his grace overwhelms us, His love covers us, until we are the people He always meant for us to be. No amount of "preparing our hearts" can ever, ever do the same.

"But God's mercy is so abundant, and his love for us is so great, that while we were spiritually dead in our disobedience he brought us to life with Christ. It is by God's grace that you have been saved. In our union with Christ Jesus he raised us up with him to rule with him in the heavenly world. He did this to demonstrate for all time to come the extraordinary greatness of his grace in the love he showed us in Christ Jesus. For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it." ~Eph. 2:4-9 GNT


  1. I found your blog through... um... somewhere. Both coming from legalistic backgrounds, we've crossed paths.

    I reacted to the first part of your post. How is "prepare ye the way of the Lord" not applicable to us? Of course we can prepare for Him, by confession and focusing on Him instead of the world.

    The more I read, however, the more I realized what you were saying. That we don't have to get ourselves up to a certain standard of holiness before Jesus will come meet us.

    Again, I think Advent is one of those important times to step back, refocus, and respond to the Holy Spirit in our lives. In that way we can "prepare our hearts." But not get ourselves all clean and holy for Him.

    -- SaraJ

    (Elizabeth Esther. That's where I found you.)

  2. SaraJ,
    Thanks for the comment! The scripture used was a Messianic prophecy, talking about John the Baptist and how his ministry would prepare the way for the ministry of Christ. A beautiful passage... but, honestly, wasn't meant to "apply to our lives".

    There's a difference between getting our hearts into a state of perfection to receive the Lord, and shifting our focus onto He Who has already come.

  3. Crying as I read this tonight. Darcy, this was just what I needed to hear. It's going to take a while for me to believe it again....but thank you.

  4. Keep speaking truth, dear friend!!

    {{hugs and prayers for you, Bethany}}

  5. This is great, Darcy. The more I look at my own journey with Christ, despite not coming from a fundamentalist or conservative background, I can see where performance based concepts have been found, even if in tiny bits and pieces, all throughout my thinking. It can be disheartening, but I thank God that He's given me the eyes to see it where it's existed in me over the last few years.

    Seems to come from the most innocent of places at times. Even so, it's bondage for the heart.

    Love the Chambers quote.

  6. This is great, Darcy. I don't see where they get that line of thought, that WE have to make OURSELVES right BEFORE God will actually dwell in us?? No, that's the opposite! We call on God and He answers immediately... HE cleans up our life and heart.

    I just don't get that. :-P I, Joanna, can never, ever, make myself "good enough" for God. Only He can do that with the redemptive blood of Jesus.

  7. I love this post! Thank you!!! I am going to share this with my son tomorrow. God bless you.

  8. Hey Darcy, I know this is a busy time of year, but I've missed your entries lately. :) Hope you're well!

  9. Thank you, Grace! I know, I've been sooooo busy! Hopefully today I'll be able to sit down and make a plan for my poor neglected blog here. ;)