When you merge something with impurities into something pure, it brings corruption.
In mathematics, we know a negative and a positive equals a negative.
As broken and flawed humans, we cannot improve the work of Christ by something we do, say, feel, or think.
Many times we are told the way to be a good Christian is “Jesus + (insert something we do or don’t do, an attitude, or a Christian discipline.)”
Consider some of the Christian activities we insert into this equation…
- Church attendance
- Spiritual gifts
- Bible reading
The list could go on and on. Notice the things listed above are all good things. We could easily attach a Scripture reference to each one.
The enemy would never think of convincing us that we need “Jesus + fornication or drugs” in order to be pleasing to God.
It’s not about just doing the right things. The Pharisees did all the right things, but Jesus reserved some harsh words for their corrupt hearts.
We must do the right things for the right reasons.
Let’s take one of the above examples. Bible reading. If your formula is “Jesus + Bible reading = being a good Christian’, how can you know when you have made it?
Would it be a short 5-minute devotional in the morning or three chapters a day? When you are doing that, the question persists. Could you be doing more? How about 30 minutes a day devoted to reading the Word? Maybe you increase to 30, but couldn’t you carve just a bit more time out of your busy schedule by listening to the Bible on CD or iPod?
At some point, you will throw up your hands and say, “I can never be good enough!”
Or you will just quit.
When a work is included in the equation for pleasing God, we must ask “When do we reach the desired status?”
When do we have the peace that is supposed to come with the gospel if all we see is pain, effort, and striving?
When is enough, enough?
We cannot add the broken and imperfect to the perfect work of Christ and have it remain pure and undefiled.
Grace breaks all the rules. Grace is not bound by human logic. Grace says the secret to the Christian life and being a good Christian is simple.
It is not a “Jesus +” formula.
It is Jesus.
In many ways, when we think our works are improving on perfection, it is the ultimate source of arrogance.
We are saying we make the work of Christ better.
We don’t believe the work of Christ was sufficient. It is akin to thinking, “Surely a little obedience will put a new shine on Christ’s work on the cross.”
The definition of perfection means no improvement is necessary.
Broken people can only produce broken works.
We respond, we do not improve. We live as grateful for the perfect sacrifice made on our behalf.
Our lives express our thanksgiving for the gift of grace.
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