Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We Can Get a Cat When Mom is Dead

This is a another good post from Jon Acuff. I am worried a lot these days about Christians who are saved by faith deciding later to add "saved by works" to their resume. Doesn't this not only harm only themselves but also other struggling Christians and, even worse, non-Christians (Pre-Christians) who hear this week after week in our churches? Paul wrote: "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law." (Romans 3:28) and "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace." (Romans 11:6)

Here is the Post from Jon Acuff:

The other day my 6-year old daughter L.E. and I were hanging out in our home office. I was writing and she was playing “Tap Fish,” on my iPhone, a game that for the most part is just a way to teach your kids about death. Seriously, those virtual fish are more fragile than Bradford Pear trees and those things fall down in your yard if someone sneezes vigorously. (Home office? Daughter? Bradford Pear tree? Whoa, that was like a suburban dad reference hat trick!)

Out of nowhere, without looking up from the iPhone, L.E. said, “Oh hey, I became a Christian yesterday. I forgot to tell you.”

Turns out that at Vacation Bible School she had gone forward during an altar call and given her life to Christ. Wow, amazing times at the Acuff house. I was thrilled and walked into the kitchen to talk with my wife about it. Along the way I passed our 4-year old McRae coming out of the bathroom. I said to her, “Hey, I just heard L.E. is a Christian, are you a Christian?”

Without missing a beat, and with a melancholy that surpassed even that of the live in Paris version of the Counting Crows song “Round Here,” she said

“No, I’m not a Christian, I don’t pray very much.”

Now clearly, you can never really be certain what’s going to come out of a four year old’s mouth. A few months ago she said, “We can get a cat when mom is dead.” (Technically that’s true since my wife is allergic to cats.)

But when she said that, it caught me off guard because of the way it framed something I think a lot of us Christians secretly believe. Put simply, “I’m not a real Christian because I don’t do ____________ very much.”

Is it possible I am raising the only four year old in the world that believes in a works based faith? Where did I go wrong? How did the amount of prayer equate to Christianity to her?

I think the reality is that all too often we try to make grace fit the cause and effect model of life. Although she is four, McRae is certainly well versed in that principle. For instance, if she eats all her vegetables, her chances of getting a treat after dinner dramatically increase. There’s a cause and effect. There’s an action that has a consequence. This idea is drilled into us over and over again. And then we grow up, and we try to get grace to act the same way. We try to make mercy behave the same way. We try to make the gospel read the same way.

But it won’t, will it?

In grace, we get something we don’t deserve.

In grace, we get something we can’t earn by our actions.

In grace, we get something we can’t control or manufacture or manipulate.

So then what do you do when you find yourself with a list of “actions necessary to be a real Christian,” that you might have been carrying since you were four years old?

I think the only thing we can do is something I talk about all the time when I get to preach. Put simply, I think we have to believe in something that feels unbelievable, and that’s the gospel. And if I could summarize the gospel in four words, do you know what they would be?

Be sick. Be loved.

Be sick, come with your broken life or your regrets or your failed dreams or huge hopes. Just come. Like the prodigal son don’t try to get “clean enough” before you take those first few steps toward repentance.

And in that, as you be sick, know that you will be loved. In that moment God is going to love you. And change you and grow you and transform you in ways that don’t make any sense. In ways that transcend our simple human understanding of cause and effect.

That to me is the four-word gospel.

Be sick. Be loved.

Be sick. Be loved.

Be sick. Be loved.

No comments:

Post a Comment