How do you get on God’s “good side?” We live in a world that rewards performance, and because we do, this performance orientation has the potential to shape our assumptions about God. When you ask people what they need to do to get on or stay on God’s “good side,” you get a list of behaviors, don’t you? Religious performance. Perhaps you have your own list. Just about every aspect of life works that way, so why wouldn’t it be the same way with God, you ask? Is the cause and effect relationship between our performance and our value a reflection of some divine design? Where do you most feel the effects of a performance-based world? (This is not a rhetorical question . . . think about it)
Author Philip Yancey proposes “There is nothing we can do to make God love us more. There is nothing we can do to make God love us less.” This seems very much like a “heavenly” principle, doesn’t it? We don’t see much of this applied in human relationships. We are taught by Paul in Colossians 2:13-14 “He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He (Jesus) has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” In these verses we see that Jesus’ death paid for ALL our sins – past, present and future, and removed ALL barriers for us in coming into relationship with God through Him. However, here is where the confusion often begins for many Christians. Having initiated a relationship with God by faith rather than by performance (works), their inclination is to manage their relationship with God according to the old system – by performance.
Before they know it, they’re making assumptions about God’s attitude towards them based on how well they perform. They attempt to earn what He’s already given – favor. Old habits die hard. So, where are you in this understanding? Do you believe you have earning potential with God? Do you believe you have something God wants or needs? It seems kind of silly when you think about it, doesn’t it? If you wrestle with this, you’re not the first or the last to do so. Let’s pause and look at what the Apostle Paul says in Col. 2:6 and take it to heart: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him.” Paul’s point is to continue in the way you started. Your relationship with God was begun by faith in His gracious, undeserved offer of forgiveness. So, approach God every day from that vantage point. Your life with Christ began with grace and it should continue in grace.
Here’s how Paul concludes the passage above: . . .”rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Did you notice anything in there about bargaining with God? No? But look hard at what he says about thankfulness. The Christian life is to be characterized by an overflow of thankfulness. You thank someone for what he’s done. You bargain with someone for what you want him to do. God doesn’t need anything from you, so you have no chips, no leverage with Him. But God wants something for you, so you don’t need any leverage. That leaves thankfulness, doesn’t it? Perhaps this is the right time to take time and express your thankfulness to God for the riches of His grace and just let your thankfulness overflow. Give it a try. Go on. Don’t just Think About It.