Too Good to be True

Grace 101

Let’s face it.  If we are pointing out enemies of grace, particularly those areas where the path is hard from years of tradition and wrong thinking, we don’t have to go any farther than our own minds.  I define the flesh as the system we developed to handle life.  Perhaps we could broaden that to simply the things we learned and accepted about life from the world, our family, and the devil.  I have written several entries about the flesh, but it is worth pointing it out again here.

Most of us learned that life worked a certain way.  We were told that hard work and integrity paid off in the long run.  We were shown how to manipulate the system to avoid some of both.  And we learned that life had a certain “cause and effect” law that had to be acknowledged.  If you played the game, you had a chance at winning, or maybe just at staying alive.

We learned that behavior and performance were keys to success.  If you didn’t rock the boat and performed well, you would be accepted.  If you met the expectations of your parents, teachers, boss, etc, you would succeed, or at least be left alone.  Everything was about doing.

And, since that was what we already believed about life and ourselves, we opened ourselves to a religion that taught the same thing.  If we were good enough, maybe God would accept us.  We would have to play the game and see.

Then along comes this message from God.  He says that He loves you just as you are and that you could never change enough to please Him because 1) you are too messed up even to know how to change and 2) He will make whatever changes He wants to see in you.  His love isn’t about your performance or behavior.  It’s about His love.

He says He will do whatever it takes to get you to Heaven forever; in fact, He has already done it in Jesus.  He says that all your sins are already washed away and you can’t keep them even if you want to.  He says you are good enough right now to be accepted by Him because He loves you already.  No amount of service or sacrifice, obedience or devotion, will make you more acceptable or more loved.

But that message doesn’t fit with what we thought we already knew.  The ground around our thinking is already hardened by a system of performance and behavior.  We like the message of grace, but it is just too good to be true.  So, in our hearts and minds, we resist.  We want to believe, but we also want the message of grace to fit with our fleshly ideas.

Remember that sin you would like to forget?  Of course you do.  When God tells you that He loves you, does that old sin come to your mind?  Do you miss the joy of His love because you want so badly for that sin to be gone?  God says He doesn’t even remember it.

Maybe that old sin is something you still do.  Does that make it even harder to believe that God doesn’t see it?  Is it hard to believe that there is no sin on your account before God, no matter what you did this morning?  This is the truth about grace that doesn’t fit with the flesh.

“There is a price to pay for doing wrong and there is a reward for doing right.”  That has been hammered into us for so long that we believe it without thinking.  When God says that Jesus paid the price for your wrong and that no amount of right will earn you the love He has for you, it’s hard to accept.

Accept it anyway.  It’s the truth.  That’s grace.

5 Comments

Filed under Grace 101, Legalism, Relationship

5 responses to “Too Good to be True

  1. jordangordey

    Just read this to my mom….very good today

    Marion!Sent from my iPhone

  2. UnForsaken

    Dear David,

    Your blog has been an answer to prayer the last two weeks. I too am from a Fundi background and can say very few are not touched by at least the behaviors of N. Thank you for affirming Grace and Relationship over and over again !

  3. Kim Paisley Brooks

    I’m confused – if this message was written to me, then it was also written to the two people whose narcissism has caused grave harm. I agree with you – grace is being given what we haven’t (and couldn’t) earn…. And mercy is not being given what we do (and should) deserve…. So it is what God intended for me in this life – what they did – and I feel tired – like I hope I’m almost done with this world.

    • Kim, you have anticipated my next post (which is already written and in the hopper). Yes, this love and forgiveness belongs to those believers who hurt us as well. That’s a hard thing. I have been hurt by narcissists, but I am on the other side now and am grateful that the Lord walked through the struggle and pain with me. It took a while for me to accept that grace is for them as it is for me. I believe that the Lord loves them and that those who truly belong to Him are fully forgiven at Calvary.

      However, and I really hope you see this, I do not believe that what they did was right or was God’s intention. God does not send or initiate evil toward us, and narcissistic abuse is evil. What God does is use that evil for our good. His love is strong enough to get us through and make us better in the process. I believe this and I live it today.

      But they are still responsible for what they did to you. Whether they are forgiven or not, it was evil they did that caused your pain. God’s forgiveness does not change the fact that they did the evil. It is important that we remember to assign the guilt of the evil to the right person. If Jesus takes that guilt away because they belong to Him, that’s up to Him and that’s fine, but they still were the ones who did it. If we don’t understand this, we begin to blame God or ourselves for what they did. That is neither correct nor helpful.

      I understand your exhaustion and despair, but please know that you are loved. You have friends here. Even before I could respond this morning, someone contacted me to call my attention to your comment and need. You are not alone. Please know also that Jesus is with you and loves you. He has not abandoned you and He will not let you go. You can curl up in His love and share your grief and pain with Him. I have had to do that and so have many who read here. The day does come through, perhaps in little flashes of blue sky and sun, but it does come and there is good after the pain.

      Do you have someone close who will listen and care? Perhaps a counselor or a pastor who was not part of the trouble? Maybe an old friend who has stayed faithful? Find that person and that support. In the meantime, please know that we care and we are praying for you.

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