Fill in this equation.
How did your mind fill the blank space in the sentence above?
Raising perfect kids?
Building a ministry?
Doing the perfect Advent activity?
Actually, the answer to this statement isn’t what you might expect. There is only one word that can fit in the space. The word is “nothing.”
Jesus + nothing = salvation
But how can this be?
There must be something that I can bring to the table! Something that shows I have what it takes to cause God to like me. To make God need me.
During the Christmas season, I desire to lead our family through the best Advent activities, give the perfect gifts, and have a beautifully decorated home filled with delicious goodies, all to make my family…and God, happy. But at the end of each day, this only causes me to fall into bed exhausted.
In a sermon on Mark 2:13-22 a while back, I learned that attempting to fill in the blank of the above equation is actually pride. Our pastor explained, “Pride says, ‘Surely I can bring something good to the table. Something that God would like or need.'”
Beyond pride, trying to fill in the blank is also religion, self-righteousness, and works.
All of these are the opposite of the Gospel because the good news of the Gospel is grace. Grasping grace is understanding that it is all about God. There is nothing good in me and when I try to win kudos with God I am actually subtracting from grace.
Our Pastor explains it using the following chart.
Grace begins at the top: “Who God is.” His being and character. The next level focuses on what God has done in my life and what He is doing in and around us. Then, and only then, we are able to move to the points where the focus is on “me.” Who I am in Christ and what I am doing for God’s glory.
While “doing” for Jesus feels good for a moment, it is fleeting. Switching the order of the chart above and leading with my performance is putting “something” in the blank to complete the equation.
There is so much peace knowing that I can’t do anything to win or earn salvation and forgiveness. The pressure is off to perform. Praise the Lord!
Because of grace, God wants me to get to know Him not do for Him. As I grow in my understand of Him, God will work on changing who I am and how I am living.
And…when I focus on God, I will spend the craziness of December in a state of peace knowing I serve a God who lavishes us with His grace and in Him I will have the strength to join Him at work.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9