Sunday, July 8, 2012

Religion vs the Gospel

4:29 p.m. Today's project was to review, ponder, and mourn over parts of a graph called "Religion vs Gospel" that my youngest son Steven sent me in a text message.

It took some doing to get the size legible, and now that I've printed it out in a blown-up version, it's fuzzy! But the effort is more than worth it for these nuggets of challenging truths. I don't know who wrote this, but it's very heart- and thought-provoking.

Religion:  "I obey, therefore, I'm accepted."
Gospel: "I'm accepted, therefore I obey."

Religion: Motivation is based on fear and insecurity.
Gospel: Motivation is based on grateful joy.

Religion: I obey God in order to get things from God.
Gospel: I obey God to have God to delight in, and to resemble Him.

Religion: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or myself, since I believe that anyone who is good should have a comfortable life.

Gospel: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle, but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while God may allow this for my training, He will exercise His Fatherly love within my trial. 

Religion: When I am criticized, I am furious or devastated, because it is critical that I think of myself as a "good person." Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs.
Gospel: When I am criticized, I struggle, but it is not essential for me to think of myself as a "good person." My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God's love for me in Christ.

Religion: My prayer life consists largely of petition, and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is to control the environment.
Gospel: My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with God.

Religion: My self-view swings between two poles. If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel humble but not confident. I feel like a failure.
Gospel: My self-view is not based on any moral achievement. In Christ I am simultaneously sinful and lost, yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad that He had to die for me, and I am so loved that He was glad to die for me. This leads me to deep humility and confidence at the same time.

Religion: My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work, or how moral I am--and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral.
Gospel: My identity and self-worth are centered on the One who died for me. I am saved by sheer grace, so I can't look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace am I what I am.

As a sinner saved by grace, yet subject to temptations to slip back into the "religious" mindset of trying to be "good" at all times, rather than leaning on Jesus, and acting from His heart's love for others, I can state truthfully, "Guilty!" on many of these points at various times and to some degree.

How about you? Let's confess our own specific sins to Jesus, and give Him the reins--and the glory-- as we see our lives unfold in His way! I Tmothy 1:17:

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

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