One of the things I have been giving a lot of thought and prayer to lately is the idea of perspective and faithfulness. I have to admit that it makes me nervous to write this down because this is exactly the kind of thing that gets you labeled as a liberal and we all know how cruel others can be when they don’t approve of your thoughts.
The more I study about God’s grace and His Holy Spirit; the more I study about Jesus Christ, and what he really wants for our lives. The more I am convinced that my perspective on faith has been out of balance. The Old and New Testaments teach me about a God who loves me and wants my love and commitment. He is not a mean kid with a magnifying glass just waiting to burn this little ant of a person. He sees me much differently and I am convinced that I must learn to see Him differently too. He is not holding up a treat (like I do with my dogs), teasing me with the thoughts of something great, all the time knowing that I cannot jump that high. Our God wants us to succeed. He wants us to be at home with him, comfortable, and appreciative of what He is doing for us. He is the epitome of a loving and gracious father.
For most of us (I hope less and less each day), our perspective of faith and faithfulness is based on striving to be good enough. For me personally, my perspective has been (not as much anymore) one of self and works. I have always felt like I had to strive, with all my might, to be the very best Christian, preacher, husband, and father possible. I have worked tirelessly (to the point of burnout, physical and emotional exhaustion) as a Christian and preacher to be the best I could be. It seemed like it was totally up to me and when I failed, and I failed a lot, I had to drag myself to the throne of Jesus begging for another chance to get it right. All the time feeling like something was wrong, like something was missing in my faith.
Suddenly, I realized that the problem was a matter of perspective. I had approached my faith and the church with a flawed idea of God. I thought that if I could be good enough then I would be able to accomplish all these great and noble goals for myself and the church. A new perspective was definitely in order. As long as I continued to approach my faith, my work, and my ministry as something I had to be good enough to accomplish, I would continue to feel like I wasn’t doing enough.
I am sure you can sympathize with me. As Christians we have been taught, maybe conditioned is a better word, over time to believe that faith and Christianity was something we had to work at. Something we had to work hard trying to be good enough. Honestly, sometimes we would do great and sometimes, not so great. When it was all said and done; we walked away feeling like we were not good enough, had not done enough, and just couldn’t measure up. All it accomplished for us was feelings of guilt and worthlessness.
Church, I think it is time for a change in perspective for every one of us. It is time we quit focusing on trying to be something, someone else already accomplished, and focus on living our faith to the best of our ability. We need to accept that as people we are flawed, sinful, and always in need of Jesus Christ. We cannot be good enough to earn our salvation and we must stop trying to feel and act like we can. It is time that we accept that Jesus Christ was the only perfect person to every walk this earth. He died so that we could let go of a way of thinking that demanded more of us that we are capable of achieving.
The Gospel is good news because He stepped up and did what we could never do; be good enough. It is good news because I can accept his grace and mercy; striving to live to the best of my ability in appreciation for what he has already accomplished.
The change of perspective that I am talking about is that we are free to live, laugh and love, and fail as Christians because Jesus already accomplished being good enough. I don’t have to strive to be good enough anymore. Jesus sets us free from the works mentality and frees us to live in gratitude and thankfulness. We are free to revel in what He has already done; to revel in the love and grace of a God who loves us.
I am not a Christian because I got it right. I am a Christian because of Jesus. I don’t have to work to be good enough but I am free to work because of what has already been accomplished.
It’s time for a change in perspective.