Monday, October 6, 2014

I'm Working My Way Back to God...Not!

Things were so busy for me this weekend and I didn’t spend a whole lot of conscience time with God. When I woke up this morning, I felt distant from God and was hesitant to approach him in prayer this morning, to re-establish that dependence I work so hard on most of the time. I felt like I didn’t deserve to be in God’s presence and I should have to do something before I earned that intimacy back.

When I was growing up, it was a well-known fact that you didn’t want to end up at the top of my mother’s sh** list. That’s the list of people who did something to anger my mother and if you were foolish and unfortunate enough to make it to the top of that list by doing the latest, biggest bad or annoying thing…well then you were there until someone else did something bigger or more recent to knock you off of the top of the list. The goal was to earn your way back down to the bottom with the eventual hope of falling off the bottom of the list and being totally in her good graces. This could only be achieved by being good and helpful and better than the others who were working their way up or down the list.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, when I’m feeling guilty about something, I feel like God is a cosmic version of my mom and we’re all on his cosmic sh** list trying to work our way off by being good, or at least better than others, in our effort to end up in his good graces. There’s an old Bill Cosby joke my father quotes when he’s caught doing something unexpectedly nice for someone: “I'm just an old person whose trying to get into heaven now.” Too many Christians approach their faith with this erroneous idea. We can’t earn God’s grace. God’s grace is not the currency of our redemption—Christ’s blood is! Christ paid for our sins with his blood and we all have received God’s grace. We just have to accept that gift of grace in repentance with humility and gratitude.

Some Christians I know think they have to suffer their way into heaven. They say they believe in God’s grace through Jesus’ sacrifice but they insist that they must suffer the appropriate amount if they are to get into heaven. Yes they're forgiven, they say, but they still have to pay the price for their sinfulness. It’s as if they are criminals in some sort of cosmic jail serving their time for their crimes before they get to go to heaven and maybe with good behavior they might get some time taken off their sentence—again trying to work our way into God’s presence. Why do we do that?

Maybe because our ways are not God’s way and if we were God we’d expect someone to pay for what they’ve done to earn their redemption. It’s only fair—You do the crime, you pay the consequences. We just can’t wrap our minds and hearts around free grace. We all know that nothing good is ever free and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. These clich├ęs are absolutely true, when dealing with humans. But when we are talking about God’s grace, his way is not our way. Yes, redemption is costly and God paid the price for us because we could never afford it no matter how hard we tried.

That’s why, even though I felt like I needed to earn my way back into God’s magnificent presence this morning, I walked right into the throne room of God in prayer and came out blessed.

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