At all Costs

Boy, has it been awhile friends!

It’s hard to believe Hudson is already seven months old. Today! Today is his seven monthiversary. Let’s just say, life with a baby is wonderful, radically new, sometimes crazy hard, and thoroughly life altering.  I adore my new role, but it is not without challenges. I’m learning much, and God is refining me in new ways. There’s a whole lot of sanctification going on over here.

I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like (I hope to rectify that soon), but today I have a piece featured at Risen Motherhood. Hooray!

You can find the article, At All Costshere. Hope it encourages.

Love, Ami

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https://www.risenmotherhood.com/blog/at-all-costs

*This picture may not be used apart from this blog.

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Not Performance. Not fear of Punishment.

mine

“Live for the Audience of One.”

I remember the injunction clearly, and pondered what it meant for me, a teenager and new believer. I knew salvation was by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone. I understood my need, responded to his relentless pursuit, and experienced his saving power. I saw radical transformation, wildfire growth if you will. And I wanted to follow Christ with all my soul.

“I am no longer who I once was,” my heart rejoiced!

But many facets of this thing called the “Christian Life” were still fuzzy. Audience of One?

“Well that must mean ‘to live for God’s approval alone.’ I suppose God is more pleased with me when I don’t do certain things, but do other things. If he’s the audience then I must perform, right?”

And so, I tumbled into the trap of performance. Do this. Don’t do this.

My failures crushed me. I couldn’t measure up. “Didn’t read my Bible every day this week. Epic fail. God must love me less.”

I may never have said the words aloud, but if I was honest, I thought they were true. I knew I’d been saved by grace, but I lived like I still had to earn it.

I’d love to tell my teenage self some things. I suppose I had to learn them over the passage of time, but if I could, I’d save her years of guilt ridden, faulty belief.

The Audience of One already approves.

Have you forgotten who He is?

As a father grins at his lisping child, stumbling through one line in the Kindergarten play, so does the Audience of One beam. Everyone else sees a gymnasium, but a father sees Carnegie Hall.

The father approves, not for the merit of the performance, but because he looks and says, “Mine.”

I’d say to my teenage self, “Christ justified you. By His blood you are declared innocent. He took your sin, and put it on Himself. Not only that, He gave you His righteousness. You belong.”

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1

“But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with Him and seated us in the heavenly places in Christ.” Ephesians 2:4-7

Justified.

Just as if I’ve never sinned.

Just as if I’ve always obeyed.

He approves. On my best days and worst days, God loves me just the same. He looks at me and sees His Son.

“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by his love; He will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

He looks at me and sees a daughter, no longer slave to sin but heir with Christ. I’m in the family. I belong. A proud father, he beams, “That one’s mine.”

Furthermore, He does not punish His own.

One root of a performance driven life is the fear of punishment. “If I don’t do xyz, I will be punished.” However, if I believe the gospel is true, I know that Jesus already took my punishment.

“By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also  are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.” I John 4:17-19

Jesus is very definition of perfect love. And His death and resurrection are the ultimate manifestations of perfect love, therefore crushing the fear of punishment. Because of Christ, believers stand confidently before God.

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” I John 4:10

Propitiation is one of my favorite words. The consuming fireball of the Father’s wrath should have been hurled at me. Instead it was hurled at Jesus, and on the cross He took it all. He drank the cup of wrath completely.

Propitiation is “a sacrifice that bears God’s wrath and turns it into God’s favor.” (ESV Study Bible)

I will not face wrath. I do not fear punishment. In Christ I am the recipient of lavish, never failing, never ceasing, tangible, incomprehensible grace.

Sure, God disciplines His own, but that’s a vastly different action than punishment. Punishment exists to exact justice and judgment. Discipline is to instruct and to train.

Sure, my actions have consequences, and when I sin and need to repent. BUT my sins are covered by the blood of Christ. There has been atonement.

To live for the Audience of One isn’t fear of punishment. And it isn’t performance.

It is worship, the delight that flows from all Jesus accomplished on my behalf.

“Our obedience is not a fearful striving to please God but a thankful and joyous response to the love with which he has already embraced us and provided for us by the sacrifice of his Son. The gospel is indeed news of great comfort and joy!” (Gospel Transformation Bible)

The Audience rejoices, not on my merit, but because I belong to Him. My lines may be lisped, my song sung with cracking voice, but He looks and says, “Mine!”

Only one was an audience, the Audience of One. The smile of the King’s approval swept through the choir like fire across dry wheat fields. When the song was complete, the Audience of One  stood and raised His great arms, then clapped His scarred hands together in thunderous applause shaking the ground and sky, jarring every corner of the cosmos. His applause went on and on unstopping and unstoppable.”  -Randy Alcorn


I first published this post two years ago under the title “Mine.” I regularly need to be reminded of who Jesus is and who He has made me to be. So I thought it was worth revisiting. As I read through my original thoughts, some necessary additions came to mind. For why do we perform? Fear of punishment. Misplaced identity. Not knowing God’s character. A faulty understanding of grace. I hope this post has strengthened and encouraged you. Believer, I pray it makes you sing with confidence. I pray the truths of justification, adoption,  and propitiation resonate deeply with you today.

Our need for Jesus is exceedingly great. Without him we are doomed to face wrath and judgment for sin. He is the only true Savior, and through Him we know peace. Through Him we are reconciled to God, declared righteous, and no longer face wrath. Justification and propitiation– they aren’t just “theology” words. They are life-transforming realities.

And for the heart that is still struggling-

Merely buzz words? No way.

If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you probably use a fair bit of Christianese. It’s a language with words like saved, believer, walking with Christ, gospel, and on and on. Do you ever wonder if they’re just trendy words with which we pepper our speech to impress others? Yeah, it’s true. Sometimes they are. But they don’t have to be. For when we press to know, to unpack the truth, and to understand, they are life altering. For instance, examine Romans 5:1-2 for a minute.

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

Paul spent the previous chapters explaining the Gospel, our abject need for it, and Christ’s centrality in it. Now he turns to what “knowing Jesus” really looks like. And it looks like justification, which means to be declared innocent. Not only did Jesus take all your sin, he gave you ALL of his righteousness. This was a one-time, legal act. You’ve heard it this way–just as if I’ve never sinned, just as if I’ve always obeyed.

This is how God sees you. But do you really believe that? I mean, doesn’t that just fill your heart with awe and wonder? Doesn’t it lift the heavy burden of guilt and shame? Amen!

But Paul doesn’t stop there. He says because you are justified, you have peace with God. Whoa. No strife. No contention. No wrath. So, the result of being declared righteous is peace. That’s propitiation. Imagine God’s great fireball of wrath hurtling through time and space at YOU, but at the last minute it’s absorbed by the cross.There Jesus bears all the weight and fury of it. That almost sounds like a work of epic fantasy. But it really happened. No wrath to you anymore, ever. All you know is grace. You’ve been adopted, reconciled, and redeemed. Through Jesus you have a secure standing. You have full access to God. You stand in grace. The fitting response? “We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” The deeper these truths penetrate, the more unshakable, overflowing, and abundant is our joy. Buzz words? No way.

The gospel, then is power that turns sinners into saints. It is the power to obey.