Cancelling Out the “Jesus +” Equation

When I first started my journey with Christ I had this crazy idea that no matter what I did, even if I failed miserably, God still loved me and was there to restore me.  Sometime into my walk with Christ I started getting this funny notion that I couldn’t fail.  Somewhere on the road I picked up this random notion that I had to look good, say the right things, do the right things, and exemplify myself as a unicorn of Christian purity.

Years into this way of viewing my relationship to Christ, it became less about Christ and more about me.  I begin to take an active role in what Casting Crowns calls the “stained-glass masquerade.”  I begin to wear a face that says, “look at me!  I have a perfect life!  I’m in church every second, I help the poor, I have flawless doctrine, and I am surely right with the Lord.”  As I write that I begin to see just how deceived I had become.  I had turned this idea of Jesus completely saving into what Max Lucado calls “Jesus Plus,”  It was Jesus plus my teaching.  Jesus plus my preaching.  Jesus plus my “perfect” family. Jesus plus my knowledge.  Jesus plus how great people think I am. Jesus plus how many times I read through the Bible.  Jesus plus what book I was reading at the moment.

Can I just ask, “What was I thinking?”  I mean seriously?  Where did I get that idea from?  Why?  How?  Unfortunately I can answer that—church culture and atmosphere gave and reinforced that idea.  I have to ask myself, “Am I a Pharisee?”  Think about it.  All the things Jesus scolded the “religious” about—I was doing those things.  That hit home very hard.  I had to change.  I have to change. I couldn’t keep up the façade anymore.  I couldn’t survive on the crumbs of self-righteousness.

I begin by asking God to guide me into the truth of the matter, and like always, God never disappoints!  Here are three Scriptures that have since been etched into my heart:

“but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Heb. 7:24-25).

Look at this one:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9)

Then there’s this one:

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).

I could write a brilliant (or not) exegetical study of these passages and look for the deeper meaning, but I’m not going to.  Here’s what God is saying to us through the word:  It’s all because of Jesus.  That’s it!  There’s no additives, there’s not preservatives, there’s nothing I can do to add to it—it is done!  Jesus satisfied the wrath of God on the Cross, and because of His love and faithfulness I can live as a child of God today!  I may have people who get encouragement from my teaching, but it’s not me that does it—its Jesus.  I may fall and fall hard, mess up something so spectacularly that it boggles the mind, but I have a Savior who completely saves, not based on me.  I have a God who has given me this thing called “grace” that says, “I know who you are, what you are, what you’ve done and what you’re capable of….but I still love you enough to die for you.”  I have a Messiah who, if I do mess up, pleads for and whose blood continually cleanses my sin.

I want to challenge you this week with this question:  What’s your salvation equation?  Is it Me+Jesus+church = salvation?  Mine was.  Now its this:  Jesus=everything. Salvation, life, love, living, dying, breathing, evangelism, serving…the answer to the equation is Jesus—it always  has been.  This week ask God to help you cancel out the “Jesus+” equation.  Ask Him to help you see that it isn’t about what you do, but rather, it’s about what He did.  Just something to think about. – Scott

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