An anointed life
God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace.
1 Peter 1:2 NLT
This week we’ve been looking at how Lent – the forty or so days leading up to Easter – is a time of anointing. On Monday we talked about how we get to anoint the Lord with our failings. On Wednesday we saw that, when we do this, Jesus anoints us with life. Today in ending I want us to consider what an anointed life looks like. In Psalm 16:2 AMP we read
I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good besides You.”
For me, this one verse captures the two most important aspects of living out our anointed, often difficult post-CPR lives: first, the fact that we need to constantly reaffirm to ourselves that Jesus is our Lord, that we are essentially under his ownership as slaves, and that it’s all about him; second, that we need to constantly reaffirm to ourselves that we have no good besides Christ – no true joy, hope, peace or love, and that for this reason living for him is absolutely worth it. That is what it is always going to come back down to. This is the theology of daily life.
It’s not easy, though, trying to live closely to God. Somehow all those John 3:16 billboards trying to beckon in new congregants never mention this. I can’t imagine why. If dying to self is hard, staying dead to self is even harder. Our egos spend a lot of time thumping against the inside of their coffin lids. They often escape and run amok. And so, if we’re lucky and we remember this one verse – I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good besides You” – eventually we will remember, Hey, remember how Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with oil and wiped them with her hair? Gross, but also so brave. She, a sinner, wasn’t afraid of Jesus! Huh. Eventually we will remember, Maybe that means I can do the same. In fact, the last time I did that, it felt an awful lot like being able to breathe again. Until we are again dead at Jesus feet; until he picks us up by our arms and says, Come, follow me.
I think what people mean when they talk about God giving us the grace to live faithful lives, this is the grace they mean: the grace to realise we are lost. The grace to remember where (or Who) we come from. The grace to go back. The grace of being welcomed back with open arms. Not the grace to be perfect, because we’re never going to get that right; but the grace to try.
Bob Goff wrote, “God doesn’t ask us to bring Him successes; He delights in our attempts.” This is because our success is in trusting and obeying God in the first place. That is 100% of the Christian life: death every moment; resurrection every second.
Keep and protect me, O God, for in You I have placed my trust and found refuge.
I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good besides You.”
As for the saints (godly people) who are in the land,
They are the majestic and the noble and the excellent ones in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows [pain and suffering] of those who have chosen another god will be multiplied [because of their idolatry];
I will not pour out their drink offerings of blood,
Nor will I take their names upon my lips.
The Lord is the portion of my inheritance, my cup [He is all I need];
You support my lot.
The [boundary] lines [of the land] have fallen for me in pleasant places;
Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.
I will bless the Lord who has counseled me;
Indeed, my heart (mind) instructs me in the night.
I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my glory [my innermost self] rejoices;
My body too will dwell [confidently] in safety,
For You will not abandon me to Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead),
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.