Grace defined: the free and unmerited favor of God.
In just under 3 years, I have come to call myself a naturist. It’s not all of who I am, but it’s a big part of who I am. Initially my Bible study and soul searching was to make sure this practice didn’t go against my faith. I’ve come to realize over time, though, that I had been associating my faith with a denomination (Christian) instead of associating my faith with my Heavenly Father. If I were to ask church leaders of any denomination if naturism was congruent with the Bible, they would probably tell me no. We’ve shared lots of Scriptures and their context and explanations here already as to why we feel it is congruent with the Bible, so I’m not going to do that. Instead, I want to talk about things a little differently.
While at a Christian Naturist retreat a few weeks ago, I was speaking with a well known author in the Christian naturist world. At one point during our conversation he used the term “means of grace,” and it struck a chord with me. This man was using examples such as the Lord parting the Red Sea for the Israelites. The parting wasn’t grace itself, but it was a means of grace. The cross wasn’t grace itself, but it was a means of grace. I’ve been saying for awhile now, that I’ve felt like the Lord used naturism as a catalyst (the means) in my life to show me so many other areas where I have not been living in the freedom that Jesus died for. I love that term, “means of grace”! Phil and I have been talking a lot lately about the Lord’s grace in our lives and what it means to live in it.
I have been a Christian my whole life, and thought I had a pretty good relationship with God. I went to church regularly, prayed, read my Bible (occasionally and almost always with an attitude of obligation). I served in the church nursery. I was on the children’s ministry team. I was a pastor’s wife for cryin’ out loud! I didn’t smoke, I didn’t chew and I didn’t go out with boys that…did. I followed all the rules. I lied to my parents once, and confessed that I lied to them about 15 minutes after I did it. Really, I was the epitome of a good Christian girl. I carried around a sense of pride when I did all the things I was supposed to do, and when I didn’t, the guilt and shame was thick. I thought I was supposed to feel guilty and I would try harder not to fail God the next day.
The things the Father has been showing me about grace though are the complete opposite.
The things the Father has been showing me about grace though are the complete opposite. He’s been showing me that he wants a relationship with me like the relationship I want with my children. I love it when my kids want to talk with me and spend time with me! What if the Father feels the same way about me? Does he long for me to come to him like I long for my kids to do the same? I think that he does!
I am not required to serve in the church nursery to be a good Christian, although I should if I feel led to. I am a sinful person, saved by grace and free to live in the freedom that was bought by the blood of Jesus. Guilt and shame are not from my Father; they are from the father of lies, and he has no claim on me! Because I am a new creation and the Holy Spirit dwells in me, I am a good person. When I am living in the grace given to me, I will automatically want to do those things that I used to see as requirements and obligations. I am no longer under the old law, but under grace.
I’ve found the Lord can use whatever He wants to draw his children to himself.
I’ve found the Lord can use whatever He wants to draw his children to himself. These are things the Lord revealed to me after he showed me the freedom I had concerning my body. Once I had studied how he felt about the body and realized what I had been taught didn’t quite line up with reality, I wanted to study more and find out what other areas the Lord wanted to teach us new things. I’ve been amazed at the journey the Lord has taken us on!
Obviously the Lord can use whatever he wants to draw his people to himself. For you it may have been an illness or an accident or some other incident in your life, big or small. For Phil and me, the Lord definitely used naturism as a “means of grace.” Naturism isn’t the grace itself obviously, but the Lord used it to draw me into a closer relationship with him– a relationship I only thought I had before. A relationship that keeps me excited and eager to learn new mysteries. A relationship of grace, mercy, love, joy, peace and so much more!!