I recently had a friend who was disappointed in herself for a mistake she made. I could totally understand her feelings as I’m my own worst enemy sometimes as well, but it also kind of bothered me how she almost seemed to condemn herself for her accidental and very human behavior. She was a newer Christian, and as I witnessed her distress over messing up, I realized she was experiencing what a lot of believers do, even seasoned ones. She was placing too much value on herself and her actions.
Listen, I’m all about allowing a relationship with Jesus to change your life. I know it certainly has mine. I’m a totally different person than I was a little over a decade ago. I no longer smoke two packs a day, drink like a fish, or cuss like a sailor, but I’m under no impression that my decision to no longer do these things grants me Heaven Points. It doesn’t make me a better Christian or more favored by the Lord. Falling deeper in love with Christ over time has transformed my life and how I go about it, but it’s not what gets me eternal life. And if you’re trying to be a good Christian for eternity sake, then you’re sadly mistaken. It’s pointless to be a good Christian to get to Heaven. Sorry, but it’s true.
The wonderful thing about Christianity is that the Lord is full of grace. I look back at some of the things I did in my past, and I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today without His great grace. While I was still knee-deep in sin and denying Him, the Lord still loved me. When He died on the cross, it was for me, even with the foreknowledge of all the stupid crap I’d pull. He loved me anyway.
We say that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and therefore His love for us doesn’t change. It isn’t conditional or based on my performance. He isn’t an angry father who looks down in disdain at my missteps, and He doesn’t rank me in favor because of my performance. There isn’t a bank in Heaven where my good deeds add up to cancel out my bad ones. His blood covered me, redeemed me, and continues to do so!
So, in that case, can I just run willy-nilly making mayhem and misery? Absolutely not! The Lord does expect a wisdom for behavior as I draw closer to Him, and I believe He blesses my life when I follow His precepts more closely. But He doesn’t cut me off when I drop an F-bomb or judge Sally for being a Lying McLiarson. I strive to speak life and truth because I’m grateful for how the Lord saved me, but I also understand that it’s not my ability to do that perfectly that seals my fate.