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Rf Memo, 05/06/2014
005 The Nestea Plunge


So, what did God point out to you when you asked Him what was blocking your communication with Him? For me, it was how I had taken back from Him responsibility for changing myself.

One of the most profound lessons God has taught me along the way is how He is the one who produces change, not me. I had to learn how to relax and let Him do all the work instead of trying to help Him out. “Helping God out” really meant making myself conform to some weird image I had in my head of what the perfect Christian was supposed to be like.

It would work like this:

I would read the scriptures and notice something that I thought God required of us. Then I would work hard at making my conduct fit that requirement, and even harder at keeping my conduct perfect. Then I would condemn myself angrily for failing to live up to what I knew I should live up to. I would also condemn others for not living up to my standard.

And I was miserable.

That's no surprise to those who understand Paul's teaching in Romans 7:14-24. There, Paul describes the frustration he experienced while he was attempting to please God through Judaism. Christians experience the same frustration whenever they try to please God by treating the New Testament as if it were law, like the Law of Moses that Paul tried to obey. Trying to please God by obeying laws always leads to the same result: frustration where one cannot meet the standard, judgmental arrogance where one can.

Don't get me wrong; there are benefits from obeying good laws. But law does not produce what God wants to produce in us. What He wants us to do is relax and let Him change us.

God has a much better idea what He wants you to be like than you do—no matter how well you read the scriptures. And God is the one who can make you into that.

When God first taught me about this, it was the 1980s and He used a commercial from TV called “the Nestea Plunge.” In that series of commercials, a guy would take a sip of iced tea and then fall backwards into a swimming pool, his arms outstretched, without bending at the waist. God said to me, “You need to fall backwards like that into Me. And you need to fall in such a way that if I do not catch you, nothing will.”

That terrified me, because I knew some of the things I would likely do if I stopped trying to make myself perfect, and they were very bad things. But God insisted that I trust Him; so I forced myself to stop making myself do stuff, and started believing that God was going to intervene and change me Himself.

That was 30 years ago. Today, I can testify to three very important things:

  1. God was good to His word. He did change me.

  2. What He changed me into is something very different from what I would have changed myself into, even if I could have succeeded. Different, and better.

  3. I started experiencing joy from the moment that I relaxed and started trusting.

The cure for the frustration Paul writes about in Romans 7 is what he writes about in Romans 8: if one is led by the Spirit of God, one ends up doing God's will (see Romans 8:4,) and God gradually changes that person into the image of the Christ (see Romans 8:29-30. Or better still, read the whole chapter.)

So, I hope you benefited from letting the Holy Spirit point out one thing He wanted to do for you, to make you better able to experience Him. But I also hope you can relax and let God do the work to bring you into conformity to the image of Jesus. You are His work, not your own.

Phil Weingart


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