I remember hearing an interview with Derek Webb several years back where he was talking about grace and what the Gospel actually is. He said something to the effect of, “We can’t make God love us any more or any less that He already does.” When I first heard this, at that point in my walk with Christ, I remember thinking that he couldn’t be right. Isn’t God pleased when we do right, and isn’t he sad, disappointed, or upset when we do wrong? Won’t people just sin all they want if they think this way?
As the years have gone by, and my journey as a church planting pastor has continued, I’ve experienced more and more the damaging effects of the view I once held. God has emotions and the Bible talks about the different emotions he feels when his children do right or do wrong, but he doesn’t love his children any less. Ever.
Romans 8:1-4 have been huge for me. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. And everything needed to make you (if you are his child, Romans 8:15-17) righteous/perfect, has already been done by Jesus and is now in you. How much better than perfect can you get? If you have received Jesus’ forgiveness of your sins and have entered into this relationship with him, when God sees you, He sees righteousness and perfection and his beloved child.
To not live this way is the opposite of grace. It’s to live as if I can impress God. And if I impress God enough, he’ll eventually ruffle my hair and tell me he loves me. This is a disaster for a church planter; someone who starts a church from scratch and more often than not based his identity and validation on how many people are at his church, how many people are getting saved, etc. If the church is going well, I feel his approval; if it’s not going well, I have let him down.
The irony of this line of thought is that we don’t think “We let God down” when we’ve done something good. You realize if our relationship with God was really based on this type of metric, we would constantly be letting him down. What on earth could you possibly do to impress God, when he knows every dark nook and cranny of your heart and your motives and your past, present, and future behavior?
Thankfully, it’s not.
Thankfully, it’s based on grace.
Grace from God, pouring over to us, is an understanding that we fall incredibly short of his holiness. He knows this. And He loves us nonetheless. He made a way for grace to be extended to us. That way was through Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins on the cross.
Now we have grace.
If we want it.
Or we can continue in rebellion, which many sadly choose. Or more subtly, we can continue trying to prove we don’t need grace, which is even sadder.
If you have received the gift of salvation and have been adopted as God’s son or daughter, nothing you do can make God love you more or less than He does right now.
You don’t have to improve.
I preached on this last Sunday…
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