Because He Loves Me
How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life
by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick
Available from Ten of Those
What motivates a person to serve God? This is the question that biblical counsellor and author Elyse Fitzpatrick asks in this devotional and biblically thorough book about Christian transformation.
I recently finished the first in the series of C. J. Sansom’s thrilling Shardlake novels, Dissolution, in which the murderer, Brother Edwig, Bursar of Scarnsea Monastery, loses his life falling from a high balcony clinging to the bags of gold he believes will purchase forgiveness from God for the heinous sexual sins of his past.
Wikipedia informs me that ‘In the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, an indulgence is “a way to reduce the amount of punishment one has to undergo for sins” which may reduce either or both of the penance required after a sin has been forgiven, or after death, the time to be spent in Purgatory.’
The Bible asserts that Christ has already taken the complete punishment deserved for the believer’s sins (1 Peter 3:18) and yet, in effect, Fitzpatrick suggests we can sometimes serve Christ out of a penitential attitude of legalistic fear rather than offering what she calls ‘gospelised obedience’. In other words, we have forgotten something. We have forgotten Jesus. We have forgotten that He loves us and are suffering from ‘Identity Amnesia’ spending our days ‘scratching around for glory’ here on earth instead of gratefully loving others as we have been loved.
I thank God that he used this book to draw me back to Himself. I ‘hadn’t felt his absence because [I was] so preoccupied with living for him’. (p18). I was ‘hiding in the shadows, focusing on performance, fearing his wrath’ (p24) just like brother Edwig cowering in his monk’s habit instead of rejoicing in Christ’s robes of righteousness.
Fitzpatrick reminds us ‘The purpose of our life is to reveal to others how wonderful [Jesus] is and to glorify and enjoy him eternally’ (p56). This means that we don’t have to prove ourselves or impress others and we certainly do not have to appease God with our efforts. Jesus’ blood has already done this.
I would heartily recommend this book to anyone who suffers from ‘performancism’. It is a deeply encouraging and challenging read; and if you’re looking for a little relaxation, the Shardlake series isn’t bad either.