When people know I’m a Christian, they forward feel good stories about God’s love. I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about. These stories are heartwarming and even bring tears to the eyes, but they only tell partial truth. One day I received one such email.
It was about a college professor who attempted to put into cultural context the sacrifice Jesus made for us. I don’t remember all the details, but I do remember the professor brought in donuts for his lecture class. He offered a donut to each student. If they accepted, he told them the catch. They would have to do 100 pushups for the donut. They usually declined.
The professor asked another student if he would consider doing the pushups for the students who wanted a donut. The student accepted the challenge. As the story goes on, this particular student was doing hundreds of pushups, to the point of exhaustion. The professor would not accept any other student doing the pushups, nor would he allow the original student to stop. He had to complete all the pushups.
The other students were in tears watching the student suffer. Sounds good, but the story really, really bothered me. I spent the next few days ruminating over this and asking the Lord why it bothered me so much. He woke me up about 4:00 a.m. with the answer.
It bothered me because it was only half the story, as many of these emails are. One cannot truly appreciate the sacrifice of Jesus without understanding God’s holiness and justice. It is not about what we do for God, in this case, that we love Him enough. It is about what God does for us, in all cases, that He loved us and made a way for us to be reconciled to Him.
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
1 John 4:10 (NIV)
“Dear Lord, please help us to always remember it is not about what we do for You, but what You do for us. Please forgive us when we forget that it is not about who we are, but it is about who Jesus is. Our identity in Him is what makes us righteous and acceptable in Your sight. Please help us to tell others the whole story and not only the good parts….”