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Own It by Hayley and Michael DiMarco
Book Quote

"Weak faith in a strong object is infinitely better than strong faith in a weak object."Tim Keller


Own It

Order a copy of Own It by Hayley and Michael DiMarco


Grace Unplugged

Own It is a companion resource to Grace Unplugged, a new movie releasing in theaters on Oct. 4, 2013, starring AJ Michalka, James Denton, Jamie Grace, Chris Tomlin and more.

> COMING SOON: will feature a review of Grace Unplugged and an in-depth interview with the movie's leading lady, AJ Michalka

Book Excerpt

Chapter 1: What Is “Owning” Your Faith? - Part 2

From Own It
By Hayley and Michael DiMarco - Continued from Part 1...

Rent It

When you rent something you make monthly payments, whereby you keep something and use it for yourself up until the time when you stop making payments. And at that time your use of the thing ends with your payments. You might make monthly or even yearly or weekly payments on your faith, going to church in order to feel Christian. You might talk about God, pray to God, read about God, and serve God, but if all of that is part of your “payment” for faith then you're a renter, not an owner. An owner doesn't have to make payments—their faith is theirs by virtue of who He is, not who they are or what they do or don't do.

It can be easy to confuse the life of faith with the act of doing, but they aren't the same thing. Certainly, when you experience God's love and His saving grace, you want to do things for Him and with Him, but it is out of love and not out of necessity as payment for your faith. That price was already paid, and not by you or any other human being, but by God Himself. As it says in Ephesians, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (2:8–9 esv).

The trouble with renting your faith is that it puts all of the reliance for salvation on self-effort rather than on God. When that happens you wear out quickly, you feel burnt out and tire easily of the hard work of obedience, which you believe leads to your salvation. This is what happens when you see a hard-working religious person who has walked away from their professed faith. They put all of their hope in their ability to be good, rather than in God Himself. When they run out of strength they run out of their payment for the faith, and end up losing their rental. But when you own it—really own it—you have no need to make payments in order to keep it because it already belongs to you. This is called justification. You don't have to justify yourself by working hard to gain God's approval. Just look at the life of Abraham the father of the faith: “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness'” (Rom. 4:2–3 esv). Abraham was righteous because of his undying faith and trust in God. He believed God more than he even believed his own feelings. When God asked him to sacrifice his most prized possession, his son, he believed God was good and so were His commands. Abraham acted, and this undying devotion to God displayed his faithfulness. He was justified by his faith in God, by the Father's ability to be good far beyond Abraham's understanding.

As long as your idea of faith requires you to make payments in order to receive the love of God, you are not an owner but a renter. God doesn't want your payments, He doesn't need them. All He wants is for you to accept His payment, the one and only payment ever needed. The payment for your life was His Son's life. And to say that additional monthly checks must be cut to save you is to say that His Son's death was a waste of a perfectly good life. Rather than endear you to God, this way of thinking cuts you off from Him, as you take His most valuable gift and hand it back to Him in rejection of its value and necessity in your life. Such arrogance then, makes you the only salvation acceptable, makes you your own Messiah, your own perfect lamb worthy of the name Savior.

Pick and Choose It

But maybe you aren't renting, maybe you're just accepting—freely accepting the gifts of God. Maybe you accept His sacrifice with arms wide open. You appreciate all He's done for you and in return you claim Him as your savior, but you aren't sure about all this Bible stuff. “I mean, how can it all possibly be true, let alone applicable in today's day and age?” So you pick and choose. You are a smart person with intuition, education, and common sense. And you like the way Jesus lived. What He said made sense, for the most part, but some of it had to be hyperbole, some of it was just stories and not meant to be law or anything. Like when He said, “If someone slaps you on the right cheek, give them the other one”—now that's nonsense. Common sense says you've got to protect yourself. Stand up for your rights. So not everything in the Bible is meant for today, you reason. So being as smart as you are, you've decided to pick and choose. You've read some of it and you've taken the parts that make sense and made them your own, and the rest? Well . . . out of sight, out of mind. Dealing with it, understanding it, is all too much work and not really necessary. Plenty of people live with only a portion of the Bible as their rulebook. The stuff they like and seems beneficial to them they take and the rest they claim to be out of date or creative license. This happens a lot in classes that study the Bible as literature, and in coffeehouses where the validity of Christ's words and ideas are analyzed and lined up in a cost/benefit chart meant to be used to developed your own kind of theology.

When you practice this kind of picking and choosing, it's like making your own Frankenstein faith. Like the mad doctor who created the monster in Mary Shelley's famous book, you create your own pieced together religion specially designed to meet your specific needs. As if your editing prowess far outweighs that of the early church fathers of our faith. In this picking and choosing of your faith, what you end up with is as volatile as Dr. Frankenstein's monster and just as ugly, because in your human nature you pick those things that ultimately serve you. Sure, you might subscribe to the need to help orphans and widows, you might see God's call to feed the hungry and care for the weak to be a selfish law to adopt, but when you picked it for yourself you picked it because of the ultimate benefit it gives you. In other words, it makes you feel like a good person—like you are making a difference, like you aren't a hypocrite, like you are spiritually informed and making decisions that will benefit you in the area of self-esteem as well as salvation. That's because of the reasons you base your picking and choosing on. When you design your own faith you must have a criteria for your choices, a line you draw that builds the perimeters of your faith, and in this kind of self-designed faith your human nature designs your beliefs around you rather than God, and in so doing you subconsciously make yourself your own God.

Now, anyone with a rudimentary understanding of the concept of God must agree that by definition God is not a being that needs to be saved. If He needed to be saved, then there would need to be someone more powerful than Him to save Him, and then He would not be God but His savior would be. If God by definition is all-powerful, all-knowing and perfect—i.e., GOD—then when you make yourself the designer of your own salvation, you ultimately make yourself the all-knowing and all-powerful one in your life. That means that you are making yourself the god in your life so that you can save yourself, but if you are God then you don't need saving.

When you pick and you choose your faith, what you are owning is your own inerrancy, or inability to be wrong. You are claiming your perfection and wisdom and rejecting anything that speaks of your failure to be perfect. Unfortunately, when circumstances show you that maybe your chosen path of salvation is too restrictive or getting in the way of your ultimate enjoyment, you are faced with some heavy editorial work. And in those changes to the Scriptures of your faith you only prove that you didn't know what you were doing in the first place. Picking and choosing your faith promises the ultimate freedom to be who you want and do what you want, but eventually it will only prove to you that to live for yourself and to make your law based on your own happiness is to become the slave of your imperfect self, and to be tortured and tormented by your own pride and failure.

Michael's Picky and Choosy Faith:

"All of my life I wanted to be married. It was my number one goal in life. I was a Christian and so I knew I would only ever have sex with my wife, but who I defined as my wife was my own choosing. See, when I dated someone I really liked, I told myself I was going to marry her and so I could of course sleep with her. I chose to believe as long as I was going to get married to her, I could have her. And so I thought . . . until I would break up with her. Then the next one would come along and I would tell myself the same thing. In picking and choosing which parts of Scripture I liked and how they applied to my life, I made one mess after another, leaving broken hearts in my wake. And my heart didn't fare so well either. When I did ultimately marry one of the girls, it ended in divorce two years later because I failed to establish my life on the complete counsel of God. Instead, I counseled myself, made up what I thought Scripture should say, all the while calling myself a Christian. I lived as a non-Christian for years. But God will let you wreck yourself in order to save you, and that's what He did for me when I surrendered my whole life and will in a tiny jail cell. My life (and peace) have never been the same all because I've stopped picking and choosing and embraced owning my faith."

>> Continue reading Chapter 1: "What Is 'Owning' Your Faith?" from Own It by Hayley and Michael DiMarco

Excerpt taken from OWN IT. OWN IT is one of two companion books from the upcoming Christian film GRACE UNPLUGGED which releases in theaters Oct. 4, 2013. The companion books are currently available at all major retail outlets.

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