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Finding Security in the Flames: Lessons from Centralia

Finding Security in God's Approval - The Power of Justification 
Imagine a town where an underground fire has been burning for decades, slowly destroying everything in its path. This is the real story of Centralia, Pennsylvania, and it serves as a powerful metaphor for the hidden flames of insecurity that can consume our lives from within.

Insecurity is like an underground fire, not always visible on the surface but capable of causing immense damage over time. It's a feeling of self-doubt, fear of disapproval, and a sense of inferiority that can rob us of our joy and peace.

The Power of the Cross
The power of the cross, particularly through the concept of justification, offers us a way to live securely in God's approval. Justification is a legal term that means God declares us righteous based on our faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, not on our own efforts or accomplishments.

To live securely in God’s approval, we need to shift our reliance from our own "grit" to the grace of God. Our default mode is to justify ourselves by appealing to our own performance—our career accomplishments, educational degrees, and even our “good works.” Yet, the reality is, we can’t justify ourselves because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We need God to justify us. According to Romans 3:24, God’s grace is the source of justification. When we are resting in God’s grace rather than our grit, we are freed from living under the burdensome notion that “you are enough.”

Believing in Christ Over Ourselves
The irony of “you are enough” is that it ultimately leads to weariness and anxiety. According to French sociologist Alain Ehrenberg, the self­-creating person turns out to be fragile and “weary of her sovereignty.” “You are enough” place an enormous burden on the self, that he or she was not meant to bear. If you seek security and approval in yourself, you will become weary because you always need to outperform yourself to seek the approval of others. Instead of providing freedom, “you are enough” leads to enslavement. To enjoy the freedom and security of the cross, we must come to the place where we recognize, “I am not enough, but Jesus is.” Through faith in the cross of Christ, we can be justified and enjoy God’s approval based upon the prefect record of Christ.

Living in God's Approval
To enjoy the approval of God we must continually bask in the blessings of justification lest we allow the flames of insecurity to reignite. The fire in Centralia began when the garbage was ignited by a single flame. To keep the flames of security from reigniting, we need to eliminate the garbage. The garbage we must eliminate is the collection of deceptive thoughts that tempt us to think that we must earn the approval of God and others. To combat those deceptive ideas, I must remind myself that I am not approved by grit, but by God’s grace. I am accepted by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. I have security rooted in the power of the cross.

Just as the fire in Centralia continues to burn, so can the fires of insecurity in our lives. But through the power of the cross and the gift of justification, we can extinguish those flames and find true security in the approval of God.

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