Growing up I had what I’ll call an “of course” attitude. “Of course” I got straight As. “Of course” I was captain of the girls’ varsity soccer team. “Of course” I was president of the senior class.
I sound like a tightly wound goodie goodie. I was. But I worked hard for those things, so “of course” there would be a reward. “Of course” I would be compensated.
Sometimes when I think about the fact that I’m a Christian, I think “of course I am,” which is why I get confused when God doesn’t reward me with the equivalent of real life straight As.
Where are my rewards, God? Where’s my Millennial Genius Junior Nobel Peace Prize?
Hellooo, don’t you see what I’m accomplishing down here? Am I going to be the first female president or not?
I think I treat my relationship with God like He owes me.
I mean, yeah, he died for me or whatever. He saved humanity. Of course he did.
And we’re good people. We’re Christians. Of course we are.
And God’s going to bless us. I mean, He has to, right? Of course He does.
But when I stop and look at the gospel – at what Jesus did – when I really see how He gave Himself up fully – like a groom gives himself up for his bride, sacrificing for her and her every need, when I see how Jesus did that for me to the point of suffering crucifixion, death, and hell, I am completely astounded by His loving actions and by my attitude that says, “of course He did that.”
When Jesus died on the cross, I don’t think He was looking down from His slow crucifixion and thinking about how beautiful we are, how deserving we are, or how much we achieved.
I think He saw something sad. Desperate people in the utmost need of a Savior. I think He saw people who owed a great deal of debt and, of course, couldn’t pay it.
So when I consider my “of course” attitude, the attitude that says I’m entitled to, have earned and deserve something, and when I call that attitude, “Christian,” I have to stop and consider what Jesus did and how marvelous it is. I have to realize my attitude that I call “Christian” isn’t Christian at all. I’m just religiously keeping tabs on what God owes me based on what I’ve done.
Because there’s nothing “of course,” typical or throwaway about what Jesus did. He suffered death so that we could live. No one had to do that. He did. We didn’t deserve it. He did it anyway. That isn’t obvious. That’s wonderful. That’s incomprehensible. That’s unmatchable. That’s glorious, mighty, and powerful. That’s God.
When I forget this and when I negate this truth, I foolishly miss out on the profound beauty of the gospel when it says “while we were still sinners” – not while we were accomplished, religious, award-winning, presidential candidates, or even seemingly deserving moralistic “Christians,” but “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
You can follow Jana on Twitter at @Jana_Stambaugh
- Confessions Of A Closet Christian 40: Why Do We Think That the Gospel is Obvious?
- Experience God 72: Philippians 2:5-8
- Confessions of a Closet Christian 29: Why Is It Hard to Call Sin What It Is?
- Confessions of a Closet Christian 7: Why Is It Hard to Call Sin What It Is?
- Carty’s Contemporary Classics 42: Take A Look At The Snake & Be Born Again