The world exerts so very many pressures on us. There’s the pressure to fit in, the pressure to perform, the pressure to conform, and the pressure to pursue what society tells you that you must do to become the perfect person. Then there’s the pressure to have the right house, the right car, the perfect hair, perfect teeth, perfect marriage, perfect children, you get the idea. We are pressured on every side to fit into the perfect mold of what the perfect person’s life should be. The pressures of this world are never ending, and they are always screaming at us, never letting up, for something that you can never, ever achieve.
All those pressures can be very intimidating to us, and for sure can beat us down, and just plain tire us out. I’ve heard it said that in business you are only as good as the very last “deal” or “work” that you’ve performed. Forget the victory you obtained two years ago, it no longer matters – the only thing that matters is what you did yesterday and what you’re doing today. I saw that pressure in person. That’s simply the way of the world – you don’t perform (or conform), you’re out! And, there’s no relief for us in this relentless worldly system.
We know that our Christian faith’s base roots was Judaism. And Judaism is the faith that God chose to establish with His covenant with Abraham (Abram at the time). Over time God revealed to His Chosen people, the rules for which they needed to live by – the Ten Commandments (when the covenant with Abraham was renewed – Exodus 34). And after that, there were more and more rules piled onto the Jewish faith – until they ended up with over 600 laws, all of which they were expected to keep. The Jewish faith was based on works, for them to be right with God. Also the Jewish people relied on a hefty dose of signs and wonders from God for confirmation that they were on the right track.
I don’t believe that there’s a person that exists, or ever existed (except for one), that can possibly bear the weight of over 600 laws so that they can be in a right relationship with God the Father. And, all of God’s people were under that weight until that one perfect person came to this earth to make things right between us and God – Jesus. By his sacrificial life, we are now pure, and can enter blamelessly into perfect harmony with God. There is nothing that we can do on our own to get there, and just like the world tells us, we can never, ever measure up to be in a right relationship with God. But Jesus did. Jesus can. Jesus does.
There’s only one way to a right relationship with God – Jesus. Believe in your heart, confess with your mouth and you are saved. You can’t earn it, it’s a gift. So why all this fuss about works, if works can’t save you and put you in a right relationship with God?
Well, when God saves us through Jesus, we enter into the perfect relationship. And when we are in harmony with God, we will want to share this harmony with others. Now, that’s when works enter into the picture. It’s because we love God, and we want to share the Good News about God, and we want others to see, and experience the goodness that God gives us, we will perform works. As Christians, we perform works to reflect God to others, and we do it out of gratitude for what Jesus did for us.
It’s an expansion of the math formula that we discussed the other day:
Faith + Nothing = Salvation
Now we can expand the formula to:
Faith + Nothing = Salvation + Works.
I don’t have to measure up. I do the things that I do because of what Jesus did for me. I want to reflect God’s love. To me that’s sweet relief indeed.