I recently listened to a sermon by Pastor Tullian Tchividjian, themed from his book Jesus + Nothing = Everything, and it smacked me between the eyes. While I read the book last summer, reminders are always relevant. In fact, part of this post is going to be about that very thing – reminding.
Pastor Tullian’s sermon, and book, is brilliantly about the Gospel. In fact, his equation nicely sums up the message of Christ. Jesus – his person and work, with no additions whatsoever, is more than everything we need for salvation. Breakdowns happen when we insert ourselves into those figures.
We naturally drift to a performance behavior in our relationship with God, Tchividjian reminds us. Good behavior, we think, lead to God’s favor and bad behavior leads to God’s disfavor. What God thinks of me, however, is not dependent on how I’m doing. When we become so obsessed with looking so closely into ourselves, our eyes are not focused where they should be – on Jesus. The Gospel is not about our feats for Jesus, but Jesus’ feats for us.
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (Colossians 2:13-15 ESV)
When we desperately try to create rules for ourselves to make God happy, we become miserably legalistic. The law nags at us, it ultimately produces rebellion. (Isn’t God’s law what we rebel against from the get-go, anyway?) Grace produces obedience. Don’t worry about behaving better first, believe better. Believe on Jesus.
Wait, you’re telling me Christianity doesn’t have a bunch of rules for me to follow? Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying. Christianity offers Jesus to follow. So, what’s this talk about grace and brakes? Grace isn’t limited. It isn’t stopping. Grace is free and freely given to us by Christ.
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Romans 5:20-21 ESV)
Grace is radical. If we really start to dig in (and I hope you will, listening to Pastor Tullian’s sermon is a start!) we see that grace allows us to live in remarkable ways we could never imagine. I have so much to learn about the untamed nature of grace; I am so thankful for these truths God has revealed in His Word to us already.