BY BILL BRIMER
Man. I had an amazing time at the Christ Hold Fast conference. I met hundreds of people and heard so many encouraging words of grace. One of the things that strikes me when I think about the three day experience is the laughter. It seemed that every conversation I had with new friends and old were filled with laughter. There was the head back, eyes closed, gut busting laughter. There was the joyful, loud laughter that seemed to be sprinkled throughout every conversation. There were the sincere, smiling giggles. There was joy and rest among God’s people with confidence in the finished work of Christ.
One of the things that I like most is cracking jokes at my own expense. I like to describe myself as either a big, ugly, bearded and tattooed dude or, if you prefer, a clean shaven, colorful Wookie. Take your pick. Either way, one of the first things you’ll notice about my appearance is my beard. This multicolored mammal that lives on my face hangs like a sloth to about midway down my chest. Now there were many admirable beards at the conference but multiple bearded men jokingly told me they were jealous of mine. To be sure there was facial hair of all kinds. But it was the bearded dudes who seemed convinced that I’d worked harder or been in the game longer somehow. We had a lot of fun joking over the silliness of it.
Among the lightheartedness, I made the comment, “It’s a Gospel beard. I didn’t do anything to earn it.” A crazy beard like mine is not something you work hard at achieving. It is quite the opposite. You stop shaving and it grows. You almost feel guilty hearing people say, “I love your beard. How long have you been growing it?” You want to tell them you haven’t been growing it. It’s been growing on its own. Go tell the guy that shaves every day, “Good job, dude.” He’s the one on the treadmill. By God’s grace my face is a beard farm. What can I say? It’s a gift. It’s not something I can do. I’m the one over here wallowing in the work of another.
As ridiculous as this metaphor is, it’s true. God has done in Jesus Christ what I could never work to achieve. The Gospel is an ongoing work of God in me, to me, for me, through me and most certainly despite me. It’s so easy to think about what God has accomplished and is accomplishing as my own good work. I’d love to take credit for it because I’m sinful and selfish and I want the glory. But I know I can’t please God. The harder I try, the more ridiculous it gets. He is fully pleased with me in Christ. He cannot, could not, and will not ever be more pleased with me than He is. He loves me despite my efforts not because of them.
Christ has taken all my sin from me, given me His full righteousness and He is returning soon to make all things new again. All of this is happening not because I’ve worked harder. As Paul says in Colossians, “the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world--just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God's grace.” It’s the good news of Jesus Christ that bears fruit! It’s a gift. It’s not something I can do. I get to watch it grow and wallow in the work of another. I get to boast in the Lord for what He is doing. So thanks for all the compliments on the beard, but I just can’t take credit. And if you’re jealous, remember, He who has begun a good beard in you will bring it to completion. In the meantime, don’t hate me because I’m beardaful.
Bill Brimer is a singer/songwriter, producer and guitarist from Dallas, Texas. He is the co-founder, Associate Pastor and Creative Director at SoulThirst Church in The Colony, Texas. He has recorded and released three original albums, Snakes & Doves (Grace Bomb Records 2011), Love Above All (Grace Bomb Records 2012) and Bill Brimer & The Skybirds (SoulThirst Sound 2016). All his music is funded by donations from generous listeners and available for free download. His music has been described as a modern blend of vintage country, punk and gospel. He is the co-host and producer of the weekly podcast God Geeks.