I’m reading a book about living the Christian life, and this sentence just leapt out at me. It’s so exactly how it is, it’s the beautiful balance of living as a person saved by grace – I know I don’t have to do anything at all to earn my salvation, I already have the love of God forever, his forgiveness for all my sins, his absolutely sure promise of eternal life… I have already received God’s mercy and love, and what drives me to try and do better is simply gratitude.
I keep hearing people talk about how those who are religious do good in order to earn brownie points with God, or out of fear of hell. And I know that some religions really are like that – but I’m a Christian, saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. I don’t fear hell for myself – I know I won’t go there, and not because I’m good enough (I’m not!) or because of doing enough good deeds to make up for all the evil I’ve thought and said and done (I can’t!). I know my eternal life is secure because I’m piggybacking on the only one who really is perfect and good and holy: Jesus.
God’s mercy and love is all I need, and I already have it. And I know there’s nothing I’ve done to deserve this – it’s all unearned, undeserved grace! Which makes me grateful, and it makes me love God and want to please him.
I don’t always manage to live up to this, and when I fail I feel bad because I’ve let God down and I love him! But I know I can’t lose his love, he’s loved me since long before I even knew he’s there, he loved me while I was doing a lot worse, his love is unconditional and just as I couldn’t earn it through doing enough good, I can’t lose it through doing enough evil.
So in theory I could be really horrible to everyone and still have God’s grace and mercy – it’s just that there’s no way I could want to, there’s no way I could be comfortable with that! Because having received God’s grace, I’m filled with gratitude and a desire to please him.
And the other wonderful thing about the Christian life? I don’t have to try and do this in my own strength – I have the Holy Spirit living in me and helping me! Halleluiah!