For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. James 2:10
When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear. Hebrews 8:13
The town I grew up in had a minor league baseball team. On most Friday nights during the summer, my dad would take me to the stadium and teach me the ins and outs of the game, including how to fill out a scorecard. Around the seventh inning of one contest, I glanced at my scorecard, double checked the jumbotron and blurted out, "DAD...the pitcher is throwing a perfect game!"
A disapproving shake of the head and an urging to pipe down greeted my excitement. Little did I know, but I had broken one of the many unspoken rules of baseball: if a pitcher is throwing a no-hitter (or even more impressive, a perfect game) you don't jinx them by bringing attention to it. Teammates (and apparently every other fan except for me) knew to distance themselves from the pitcher and give them space. The pressure to blank a team was so overwhelming it was almost unbearable. They carried the weight of perfection on their shoulders - a pursuit that left them exhausted, nervous and on edge.
I don't know about you, but that image seems to encompass how I feel when I try to earn God's love and prove to others that I’m valuable. Culture tells us to prove our worth to everyone, including God Himself. Even though we know in our head that God’s grace provides freedom, many of us live our lives exhausted.
Attempting to rid ourselves of the performance mindset feels like an impossible task. As it relates to our walk with God, we know that grace saves but we struggle to understand that grace is enough. We run ourselves ragged attempting to “convince” God we are valuable and that He made the right decision by saving us.
We get bogged down with the rigidness of religion instead of relaxing in the grace that provides the security of the relationship. Our attention gravitates towards what we can do for God rather than being blown away by what He has done for us.
Without even knowing it, this influences the intimacy we feel towards God. The impossible standard of the law has us walking on pins and needles. We worry that if we mess up or drop the ball, He will be angry or disappointed. On the flip side, if we jump through enough hoops performing good deeds, then we will receive His affection. Our effort becomes our sacrifice.
Under the old law sacrifices were necessary to ensure our favorable standing with God. However, under the new law, Jesus’s death on the cross served as the ultimate sacrifice, once and for all. We now operate not on a scale of checks and balances but under an umbrella of grace. Christ already threw the perfect game which allows us to enjoy this game of life.
- What danger arises when we focus on what we can do for God rather than what He has done for us?
God, today I will rest in Your grace and love knowing it is the only thing that can indeed set me free. Release me from the bondage of my self-effort that is fueled by stubborn pride. Help me to trust that the cross changes everything. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.