What I read today;
Galatians 2-3; Mark 15; Ezekiel 30-31; Psalm 133; Job 15; Numbers 22
Western civilization is enamored with statistical analysis. We measure everything. Cars now show the Miles Per Gallon, businesses have Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), athletics have every possible form of statistic to back up the performance of players and teams. Advanced analytics is the new buzzword in sports like major league baseball. If you’ve worked for a fortune 500 company, you know all about strategic planning and metrics.
Human beings love to measure things.
I think that’s why legalism is so enticing. We gravitate to it like a moth to a flame. It’s easy to understand. You put up the metric, and then you measure yourself against it. If I was supposed to make 100 widgets and I made 110 widgets, then I’m a success.
So in spite of what Jesus had done, the early church fought this idea that salvation was about what Jesus did and our performance.
Funny thing is we still have that problem.
We still struggle with the idea that Jesus saving work is all that we need for our salvation. We feel like we have to do something, act a certain way, or meet the commandments to save ourselves.
The Galatian church was fighting this very situation. Paul shoots the notion down quickly. He understood that we cannot measure up to God’s standard. No matter how hard we try, we will always fall short. The legalist inside of us says we should be able to measure up to the KPI’s. But at the end of the day when we lay down, we realize how far short we have fallen from reaching God’s standard. We end up in a cycle of guilt and shame. This guilt and shame then drive us away from God. We hide from God like Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden. We look at those commandments and then stare away from God.
It was that guilt that Paul knew would destroy souls. He understood that Jesus came to take our sins away. Paul was well aware that when people added to Jesus saving work that it jeopardized the eternal salvation of those who needed God’s grace.
We face similar problems today. Many teachings exist which say we are saved by Grace through Faith and something else. We have to act a certain way, or look a certain way, or live a certain way.
But that means that our salvation would depend on something we do wouldn’t it? If that’s the case, we’re all in deep trouble because we know in our hearts that we can’t measure up. James tells us that if we break the law at any point, we’ve broken all of it.
That’s why Jesus came to the earth. He gives us the gift of a conscience scrubbed of guilt. He gives us the free gift of grace in spite of us, not because of us. When you’re tempted to measure yourself against someone or something, remember that God only measures us by Jesus now. Each day Jesus wipes our sins away and gives us new hope. Every day he walks beside us helping us through our struggles with sin and shame. It’s the free gift that Jesus has given us. Not because we earned or deserved it, but Jesus gives it out of his love for each of us.