We were wrapping up seminary orientation when the professor turned back to the board.
“Here’s the one thing you need to know to get you through this program,” he said.
He scrawled giant letters across the board: C = M.Div
His point was that it didn’t take a perfect GPA. Most churches don’t want to see your transcript–they just want to know you have a seminary degree. It wasn’t worth jeopardizing your family or your health to graduate cum laude.
I’ve never been that kind of a girl.
The first day of high-school biology our teacher planted his feet in front of the class and declared “No one gets an A in my class.”
I thought, “Watch me.” And I did.
When it comes to academics, I don’t settle for less than my best. My inner Hermione revolts at the idea of C=degree. I’ve always been willing to do a little more work, read a few more books, or write a few more pages on the paper to come out on top. I love learning and school comes naturally to me–that’s a big part of it. But part of it is also that my achievement-oriented self can’t stand not putting my all into my work.
That’s good for academics. Not so good for salvation.
Here’s what we do so often: saved by grace, we try to live by works. We gladly receive salvation, then try to live as if we have to earn God’s continued favor—and we can’t. Nor do we have to. Once we were strangers and aliens, enemies of God. But by his grace “once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.” (Eph. 2:13.) In his death Jesus became our peace. He tore down the dividing wall between us and God, bringing reconciliation. Because of Jesus, we now have bold and confident access to come before the Father’s throne.
[Tweet “Why we don’t need to add post-it notes to the cross http://bit.ly/1nxPF8l @leigh_powers”]
Jesus did everything. Jesus’ death unlocked the doors of heaven so that we can have a relationship with God. But sometimes we act as if Jesus’ death wasn’t fully sufficient. In our insecurity, we try to add our pitiful acts of atonement to Jesus’ perfect sacrifice:
Jesus plus our clean house.
Jesus plus not missing church for a month.
Jesus plus having a quiet time seven days in a row.
Jesus plus our perfect children.
Jesus plus our volunteer work.
Jesus plus—because we cannot fathom that God loved us enough to become everything for us. We can’t wrap our minds around grace, so we staple the post-it notes of our efforts to the cross and hope that someday we will have done enough to receive the reward Christ has already given.
This is what we must understand: intimacy with God is not something we achieve but something we learn to walk in. God is not up there somewhere waiting for us to climb up to him; He came down to us so that he could walk beside us and show us the way. Salvation is available by grace through Christ. Christ’s blood paid the price for us to fellowship with God. The invitation is there—God has already taken the initiative. We simply respond.
[Tweet “Jesus plus nothing equals grace @leigh_powers http://bit.ly/1nxPF8l”]
C may equal M.Div. Jesus plus nothing equals grace. Receive it freely today.
Q: Do you ever struggle with feeling that you have to earn God’s grace? How does that work itself out in your life?
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