"You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace." - Galatians 5:4 (ESV)
This verse hit me like a ton of bricks while in Panama. It was one of those verses that I've read a thousand times but never really read. Some of you may find some way to dismiss this, but I have this nasty habit of believing the Bible to be true even if it doesn't fit into my theology or chosen doctrinal statement. For instance, when Jesus uses a parable to teach that God will yank your forgiveness if you can't forgive others, I think that's true (Mt. 18). And while I believe every bit of my Free Will Baptist doctrine, I think we're a bit off-base by requiring our members to be tee-totalers. You won't find that taught anywhere in Scripture and I'm personally of the opinion that it's hard enough to obey what IS in the Bible without adding more to it. However, since I believe our doctrine is the most accurate and because I love our denomination, I'll wait till heaven to start my drinking.
Back to Galatians: the strength of this statement just bowled me over. How many people (yourself included) do you know that try to improve their standing with God by trying to improve their morality. In our nonsensical minds, it is much easier to keep a checklist of do's and dont's than to simply enter into an authentic relationship with Christ. And I don't mean relationship in the pansy, feminine way that most preachers today speak of. I mean entering into a relationship with Christ where you place all your hope, faith, devotion, dreams, everything. I believe one of the many reasons American faith is so weak is because we've sold this idea of a romantic relationship with Jesus. I think romance is only one small part of our relationship with Jesus. The problem with romantic relationships is that they are controlled and driven by emotions. So if Jesus is not making us happy on any given day, then our faith falters. Jesus is your friend, but he's not just your friend. He's your counselor, but not only your counselor. He's much more than your homeboy. He's your God, your example, your Savior, your boss, your master, your companion...what he is is everything you need (even if you don't think you need it).
The idea that in all this effort of trying to get closer to Jesus by being a moral person, we are actually seperating ourselves from Him is so sad. I want to live in total dedication and submission and love to Jesus. He will work out my morals as he shapes me into the shape he has planned for me. I will be moral, not because I'll get closer to Christ that way, but because it's the only reasonable response to the love he's shown me.