A different gospel

Trusting in myself instead of in Jesus

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This time last week I published my first blog. Within a few minutes people had made some very kind comments (thank you). I watched the stats for the blog steadily reveal the number of views it had and from which country . As I looked I noted how it made me feel; initially anxious (would anyone read it?), then relieved (they did!) and pleased (they liked it).

I like to receive praise and affirmation (who doesn’t?) but I know that for me this can be a slippery slope towards putting my trust in a different gospel. A gospel of works. If I do “x” – people/God will like me, if I do “y” well –  I will be affirmed. It’s all about performance, my performance. This is a behaviour I learned when I was very young – that in order to be loved I had to do well.

In our church we are enjoying a teaching series on the book of Galatians. In chapter 1 Paul talks about the gospel of grace and a different gospel. The different gospel consists of following certain laws in order to be acceptable. This is totally opposed to the gospel of grace where we are freely accepted just as we are. We don’t need to do anything to earn it; through being good, obeying the rules or performing well. This is such good news.

I, however, can  dismiss my need to perform as “it’s just the way I am wired”. I can think that it doesn’t really matter. What I’ve realised  is that it does matter because I am turning to a different gospel where I am at the centre. When I choose to seek acceptance through works I am no longer relying on the work that Jesus has already done to win me acceptance with the Father. The gospel has become all about me instead of all about Him. The trouble with this other gospel is that I can never know when I have done enough to earn God’s approval so I will be trapped on a hamster wheel of works forever. I don’t want that. I want to put all my trust in the gospel of grace. I am FREE! Free to enjoy all the blessing that God has intended for me. I am a daughter of the king with an inheritance to enjoy not a slave desperately trying to earn a taskmaster’s favour.

Of course, as Paul says,  there is no other gospel. There is only one and it is good news! What Jesus has done in dying for me on the cross has truly given me a new life. I have been brought into His family. I have a Father who loves me, who accepts me;  there is nothing I can do to add to that. How can I add anything to a gospel that has already given me eternal life with my sins forgiven? I can’t – there is NOTHING I can do to make God love me more and NOTHING I can do to make Him love me less. That is the beauty of Grace.

 

The Goodness Bag

Goodness. I will never get anything different from God.

Welcome to the Goodness Bag Blog

At the end of 2014 I was waiting for a  diagnosis following a biopsy, as I prayed with some friends one of them had a picture for me.The picture was of me putting my hand into a lucky dip,  and  that I was dreading what would come out. Would I get the booby prize? Would I get the plastic  toy that no one wants? The lucky dip was in a purple velvet bag and as I dipped my hand into it the Father said that “Everything I give to you is covered in my goodness.”

At Christmas one of those friends gave me the bag  pictured above; it was filled with slips of paper, on each one was printed “Goodness”. Every time I put my hand into the bag it was (and still is) always the same, Goodness. I will never get anything different from God.

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I carried the bag with me as I went for an unpleasant pre-op procedure, as I waited to be called in to the operating room, as I waited for results from lymph nodes, in fact, everywhere I went. When I felt anxious I would put my hand into the bag and take hold of the goodness of God for myself.

Of course I knew that God is love, I knew the Scriptures and the theology. But I actually needed to apply the truth to myself  and not just as an intellectual concept. It’s so easy to give mental assent to the truth but not actually to experience it or enjoy it. Having this bag has helped me to engage and trust in the goodness of God.

It didn’t mean that I didn’t have cancer, it didn’t mean that  I would not experience difficult times . I don’t want to minimise suffering, difficulties and pain because they are real and need to be acknowledged. What I do know is that no matter what my circumstances are, God is always good to me and always for me. His nature does not change. Even when I don’t understand why I am experiencing difficulty, I can hold onto the fact that He is always good. I will not get second best from God, He has already given His very best for me in sending Jesus to die for me. He will never leave me or forsake me. He loves me.The same is true for you.

Now that my treatment is over I no longer carry the bag with me all the time but it is on view in my room so that whenever I see it I am reminded of God’s goodness towards me. I am so thankful for this gift which helped me not only to live through that difficult time but it has lodged the truth in my heart and I live in the good of it every day.

 

I will be sharing more about what I have learned about God and what He has been saying to me in this blog. I hope you will join me as I dip into the Goodness Bag and share what He reveals.