Tuesday, September 20

Salvation, not Scrutiny

And you were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possessions--to the praise of his glory. --Ephesians 1:13-14

Getting caught up in a performance-driven mindset is very easy, especially since we live in a world where ambition is recognized and rewarded. Consider the hit reality show "The Apprentice." Individuals compete in the fast-paced business world in order to earn a coveted, posh position as one of Donald Trump's high-level executives. Each person much successfully execute a series of grueling, pressure-laden tasks well enough to keep from being fired. The tension amongst the group is continually thick, and emotions tend to run high. Week by week the number of contestants dwindles until finally, one last competitor is welcomed into Mr. Trump's world with the phrase "you're hired."

The large majority of us may never find ourselves in the midst of that particular type of pressure situation. However, many Christians still manage to grow weary and tense, thinking we need to accomplish a certain number of tasks in order to have a meaningful or recognizable identity. We think that in order to matter in the sight of God, we need to function in spiritual hyper-drive. We scrutinize our perfectly acceptable behaviors thinking that we should be pressuring ourselves to work harder at being a Christian.

We forget that God's approval and love for us is not task-oriented or performance-based. To belong to His family, to be welcomed into His presence requires only simple faith. By believing in the message of the cross and professing faith in the saving power of Christ's blood, we are given the right to become God's heirs. Through the unwarranted gift of grace, we are accepted as God's sons and daughters.

What I like most about God's plan for me is that I didn't even have to sign up, wait in line, or fill out an application for the opportunity to be considered by Him. None of us has to audition for the gift of grace. God does not evaluate us on an individual basis and then determine if we are worthy of His blessings. In fact, none of us is worthy, yet He chooses to love us unconditionally. Because I already belong wholly to Him, I don't need to put pressure on myself to be some sort of "super-Christian" in order to get His attention. I am awed by the fact that God called my name even before He laid the foundations of the earth. Before He painted the first sunrise or taught the stars how to shine, He saw me and loved me.

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