If you want to achieve anything in this world, how do you get from where you are to the “X”? You know, your goal, where you want to be, the place where you can say, “I made it!”
Usually, you would need to climb the rungs of a ladder and work hard to accomplish your dreams.
- If you want a good job: go to college, get good grades, get experience, work as hard as you can.
- If you want to make it in the NBA: practice every day, lift weights, eat right, do the little extras no one else would be doing.
- If you want to get married: expand your interests, be willing to do what he/she likes, put him/her first, make a commitment that he/she is the only one.
Most of what we do in this life follows this pattern. And the problem is this: we bring this idea to the church.
We get in our mind the picture of what we would call a mature Christian, and then we work to achieve that status: we read our Bible, we pray, we go to church, we join a Bible study, we serve every chance we get. And once we do all these things and we do them well, we think we arrived, only to find out, we have so much further to go.
In our passage this week, Jesus is telling us: “No. You don’t earn me. It’s just not possible. I want you to stop thinking about how you’re doing to get to me, because you will never get to the point where you feel like you did enough. The goalposts will forever move on you. And you will get frustrated and think I’m mad at you, don’t care about you, or are not with you.”
The problem is the focus is on us, not on where it should be. We are constantly asking the questions: How am I doing? Am I doing well enough? Am I getting God’s attention? Am I placating Him for the bad I’ve done? Am I pleasing Him? We ask these questions and where is the focus? On us. And what is our relationship with God truly about? It’s about Him.
We need to start changing our mindset from ourselves to Him, because here is the radical thing: When we come to Him, and we repent, believe, are baptized, and follow Him: we are adopted into His family. God already loves us and He cannot love us any more or love us any less. The real questions we should be asking are these:
- God, how can you be so good?
- How can you love me so much?
- How could you come and save the world?
- And how can I love others the same way you love me?
By asking these questions the focus stops being on us and begins to be on Him. We see ourselves in light of His story. We see ourselves as part of His family. We see ourselves responding to what He has done for us by going out and doing the same for others.
We believe in a gospel that is others-focused. The faster we can break free from the human paradigm that keeps the focus on our actions, and turn ourselves to the Jesus paradigm that is solely focused on Him, we can then get out into the world and change it for others who need to know about this amazing God.