He Loves Me!
This devotional is a series of excerpts from Wayne Jacobsen's life changing book, He Loves Me! Download a PDF of this book by clicking the link below.
Day 48: But Theology
Who hasn't seen people use God's grace as an excuse to guiltlessly chase their own agenda? They accept God's forgiveness and an eternity in heaven but go on living in the same captivity as the world around them. Not wanting to apportion "cheap grace" to people who don't want to do things God's way, we find ourselves constructing a list of expectations to help define what a true Christian does.
It's as if we can only keep the message of grace intact for the first fifteen minutes of someone's birth into God's kingdom. After that we start loading them up with the obligations of being a good Christian: "Of course we are saved by grace, but that doesn't mean we can just sit around and do nothing. God is a loving Father, but don't take advantage of that because he is also a severe judge. We are not saved by our works, but we still need to live a life that pleases him." The latter usually consists of some mix of Bible reading, prayer, church attendance and righteous deeds.
By embracing this "but" theology we end up right where we began, with a performance-based relationship to God. We have to live every day concerned about whether we have done enough to be a good Christian and judge others around us with the same standards. It not only takes all the joy out of knowing God, but also all the encouragement out of our relationships with others.
Whenever we add anything to God's work on the cross, the message is distorted and we rob it of its power. Paul made it clear that the cross alone had totally transformed him. "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Gal. 6:14).
Grace doesn't need any add-ons. Even though Paul watched people who used their new-found freedom as an excuse for the flesh and warned them not to do so, he never sought to change them by adding human effort to God's grace. He knew the fix lay elsewhere.
It is as paradoxical a truth as Jesus' warning that we save our lives by losing them: living in his grace leads to freedom from sin; living in his judgment leads to even greater sin. It has always been so, though it defies human logic. That's because we are far more used to being conformed by external pressures than we are to being transformed by his inner presence. For many, having never experienced the latter, they doubt it will even work.
But it does. Once you experience God's delight over you as his child and the joy of friendship that produces, you will find yourself abandoning your own desires and embracing his. Of course that delight doesn't mean he affirms everything we do. He simply knows that without him we are powerless against sin and that no matter what strength of will we can conjure up it will only last a few months then fade into bondage again.
So God still cares about sin-deeply! Sin destroys what he loves. He wants to change you by teaching you how to live loved every day. When you learn to recognize his voice in your ear and his hand in your life, you will want to be even more like him.