Jesus + Nothing…
For years, Christianity was this journey toward self-righteousness for me. I don’t know when this cycle began, but I know I’ve wrestled with the notion that I can somehow attain favor with God on my own accord. When I would attend church, I was waiting for a “three-step plan” to fix my problems and discover God’s will for my life (like there’s some miraculous formula).
I was eager, at least on the surface, to do whatever it took for God to be pleased with me, regardless of the measure suggested from the platform at my home church. Time and time again, I would sit in my chair waiting for that one message that would revolutionize my life and catapult me forward in my pursuit for self-fulfillment and right standing with God.
The problem? My theology (what I knew about God) was all wrong, as well as my motivation.
What I became over the years was a Pharisee. Instead of truly understanding the fullness of salvation and pursuing the God who freely offered it through Jesus Christ, I wished to supplement His work for my works. Somewhere along the line, I had belittled the costly sacrifice of His one and only Son on the cross by believing that I could merit anything at all from him by my “good deeds” apart from faith. I failed to internalize that “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Isaiah 64:6, ESV). (In case you don’t catch the severity of this passage, do some research on it to understand the reference.)
Nothing I do can ever be enough to take the place of Christ’s substitution for me at Calvary. No deed could ever change my eternal fate. In fact, my greatest achievement is worthless as it pertains to my salvation because Christ alone can fill the gap between my pitiful, sinful state and God’s holy perfection.
All my work over the years to “be good with God” had been (and will ever continue to be) misplaced. I wished to take my life in my own hands and venture forward in my own strength. Fortunately, God got a hold of me and corrected my misguided belief system. He reminded me that “there is none who does good” (Psalm 14:1, 53:1). And, although there are times when I drift back into this sinful way of thinking, I know where I stand with God, thanks to Jesus.
He’s still working on me to understand the depths of His grace a little more clearly each day so that I can further comprehend that it is only because of His loving initiative that I stand forgiven; and, if you are in Christ, the same goes for you!
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
(Romans 6:12-14, ESV)
Jesus + Nothing = Everything (I stole this from a book title).
As you go throughout your day, remember this equation. Tell yourself throughout the day, “Christ is everything.”
My prayer is that God will constantly remind us of this truth, so that our deeds are merely a result of our salvation (not vice versa).