I had Barb's heart on our first date. And truth be told, she had mine. She was 15, I was 16, and I owned a 1965 GTO. She liked that I was tall, had my own car, and played basketball - not necessarily in that order. I did as I was trained and still do to this day, opened the car and other doors for her, and focused on her; she was both fascinating and scary to me (still is).
I had been working up the courage all summer to ask her on a date and finally worked up the nerve, and she accepted! We went to see a movie and had the usual popcorn and soft drink. But on the drive back to take her home I became totally embarrassed when a leaking gasket caused oil to drip onto the hot engine.
On that windless evening at each stop light a blue smoke would rise from under the hood that smelled like burning oil, and drift into our open windows...Why do you always hit red lights when you need to hit all greens? I didn't want to send my date home smelling like burned engine oil!
Even with all those stop lights it seemed the night was ending all too soon. As we drove along I saw a donut shop and asked if she would like to stop for a donut - and she said yes to my great relief. We sat for a long time eating donuts and drinking milk and talking, getting to know each other, before we rolled into her driveway sometime later.
She got out and I walked her to her door. I am 6'6" tall (1.98m) and she is 5' 3 3/4" (1.6m) - that 3/4" (1.9cm) is very important to her, lol). She stood on the top step, I stood one step down, and we kissed gently goodnight. She said she floated into her house and knew at that point she was going to marry me. For me, I knew there would never be anyone else. Period. Paragraph. Over and out.
When you have His heart...
Once I had her heart, I didn't need to put on a 'show' to win her over like a strutting peacock trying to win a hen. That would have been pointless: I already had her, and she had me. Of course we do things for each other out of kindness and love, and we respect and honor each other, now 'going steady' this fall for 45 years (married 41). But I don't have to do anything to win her heart, I had it long ago, hold it in trust, and understand that to be a sacred trust. Anything we do now for each other flows from that; we aren't trying to win each other over all the time - we have each other's heart.
Most of our early dates were talking through life as I led her to the Lord. We talked of her home life and mine. Before she was born again she had to work through all the questions and injustices of life and more - it was a process for her.
What I just described above is like our walk with the Lord. He has our heart, we have His, for we have Christ in us. The rest is a process of 'accepting Him' into our lives, reasoning things out, comparing life with our faith, and walking it out. We already have His heart, so anything we do is merely a response to that, not trying to make that happen. It's a done deal.
Paul asks in Romans 8: 32: "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also along with His Son, freely give us all things?"
His point is that the Father did the absolute maximum He could do for us by sending His only Son. If He gave us a galaxy, it is nothing compared to the giving of His Son. If He gave us all the gold on 1,000 planets, it doesn't come close to the giving of His Son. We have His heart, we don't need to strut around like a peacock trying to win Him over or get His attention - no religious formula or gyration can add to or subtract from Christ in us. He has us, and we Him. That we have Christ in us, ends any effort on our part to win Him over, to impress Him, to get more from Him.
His Son was everything to Him - That He sacrificed Him for us means He has given us Him and all things relating to Him.
Now compare that with...
Church culture which is all about 'doing' something to reach the Lord. The rituals keep the need for the building and programs and all going, but that structure then naturally creates the culture of formulas to try to touch God because the pastor/priest stands between the congregation and God. Therefore church becomes a church encounter rather than a God encounter.
Think through your life: How many formulas have you seen or been part of that have no basis in the New Testament truth that you have Christ in you?
Jesus told Peter he had to crucify his thoughts of Jesus not going to the cross - that is how we crucify our flesh, we change our thoughts and motives from what we want to what He wants. But that isn't about winning God over to us.
The rest of the NT is all about the fruit of the Spirit flowing from us in Galatians 5: 22-23 and character from II Peter 1: 5-8: Love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, meekness, moral excellence, self control, consistency, godliness, brotherly love, unconditional love. Walking in love and doing good and living honest upright lives.
There are no formulas in the NT, just teachings and exhortations to walk in the new man, to live in the new life in Christ.
Paul said in Romans 10: 6-10 tells us that faith doesn't try to go to heaven, nor does faith try to pull Jesus down from heaven, but rather faith is in our hearts already. Christ in us, the hope of glory. So stop the games!
You have all you ever need right in your spirit - need wisdom? You have the mind of Christ. Need strength? You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Need something in this life? All things that pertain to life and godliness have been provided through the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Christ is in you, so you have enough of everything you need to get through today, this week, this month, this year, this life.
How Paul dealt with religious systems next week: The Messianic movement
Until then, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org