For many years I've been wary of Bible Study-type books. But this past October, I found myself desperate to see myself as God sees me. Ashley Linne's new book, "Inseparable: who I am, was, and will be in Christ", intrigued me. All I can say is that this beautiful, gentle exposition of who I am in Christ nurtured my aching soul at just the right time. I'm honored to host Ashley on my blog today. If you'd like to receive a free copy of "Inseparable," please leave a comment for a chance to win. xo. EE.
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I was raised in competing faith traditions that both focused largely on perfecting oneself through good, old-fashioned strength of will. Ironically, even though each of these faiths points to the other and calls it apostate, both sent me the same message: you’d better be good and believe what we tell you, or God will smite you.
There are a couple of memories that stand out to me as I was growing up, torn between these two worlds. One day, when I was about eight years old, I was talking with an adult about shortcomings. At some point in the conversation I said that no one is perfect. The reply was, “That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to be.” I took this to mean that unless I tried to be perfect, I couldn’t be saved.
At another junction not far down the road, the war between the two faith traditions came to a head via an unsuspecting woman who was a “counselor” for those who went forward at church during the altar call. I sat with the woman and shared that one side of my family followed a certain religious ideology, and she replied that they were all going to hell and I would, too, if I believed what they were teaching.
I remember staring at the blue carpet and crying. I didn’t know whom to believe.
Even though I’m now firmly rooted in my relationship with God and learning to grasp grace more each day, I find myself tangled in a different sort of struggle. What if by focusing on God’s love, I somehow imply that there isn’t any value in holy living? What if people think I offer a cheap grace?
Rather than obsessing about whether I’m doing things right, I have learned to focus on listening for the voice of the Spirit. Otherwise, it's just too easy for me to hold Jesus at arms' length and get sucked into the frozen state of fear.
When I say that, “If I err, I want to err on the side of grace”, it doesn’t mean I have lax standards or don’t value holiness. It means that I know God, and because I am in Christ, I have already been made holy. In light of my own humanity and my battle against the flesh, instead of making me proud this makes me grateful.
When I was desperate to have control of my own life, Christ died for me and made me holy. When I refused to depend on anyone but myself, Christ died for me and made me holy. When I holed myself up in a cave of fear, Christ died for me and made me holy.
He died and raised from the dead, and now I live in Him. In Him I am holy, blameless, forgiven, accepted, and loved to depths and heights that I haven’t even discovered yet.
THIS is why I seek His face above all else. I don’t seek to be perfect. I seek HIM.
I seek His Kingdom and His righteousness, because He is faithful and gracious and loving. I seek Him. And I do it with a limp, I do it with wounds that aren’t scarred over yet, I do it imperfectly… but I do it knowing I am in Christ and He is in me. I know that even when I stray or revert to my old ways of thinking, He’s not going to cast me aside for messing up.
In His grace, He will sustain me through the pain of refinement as He chisels away parts of me that shouldn’t be there. I’ve learned that this chiseling is just another aspect of His grace. As I follow His movement and participate in His work, I am His representative to a world gone mad.
What will they see when they look at me? A crazy woman? Perhaps. I do hope they see something that perplexes them, but I hope it is because they’ve seen a living, breathing example of real love.
I hope that they see a glimpse of Christ. And I pray that anything that doesn’t look like Him would be scrubbed away.
“For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.” (Galatians 2:19-21, NLT)
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Ashley Linne is a wife and mom who loves to write, sing, and travel. She is passionate about discipleship, mentoring, and sexual abuse prevention. She has been leading small group Bible studies for over 15 years is the author of Inseparable: Who I Am, Was, and Will Be in Christ. Ashley lives with her husband and son in Bellingham, WA.
Excerpt from “Inseparable: Who I Am, Was, and Will Be in Christ” by Ashley Linne. Download a FREE Chapter from all three new Inscribed Studies Here. (No email required)