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.