I just finished reading Tullian Tchividjian's book, Jesus + Nothing = Everything. He closes with an illustration that touched me, so I shared it with my wife, who in turn shared it with a friend. I am posting the text here, so that she can see it as he wrote it.
From page 205, he is retelling a story that his friend Steve Brown tells...
She (the head of the English department) looked up and saw me standing there by my daughter and could tell that Robin was about to cry. There were some students standing around and, because the teacher didn't want Robin to be embarrassed, she dismissed the students saying, "I want to talk to these people alone." As soon as the students left and the door was closed, Robin began to cry. I said, "I'm here to get my daughter out of that English class. It's too difficult for her. The problem with my daughter is that she's too conscientious. So, can you put her in a regular English class?" The teacher said, "Mr. Brown, I understand." Then she looked at Robin and said, "Can I talk to Robin for a minute?" I said, "Sure." She said, "Robin, I know how you feel. What if I promised you an A before you even started, would you be willing to take the class?" My daughter is not dumb! She started sniffing again and said, "Well, I think I could do that." The teacher said, "I'm going to give you an A in the class. You already have an A, so you can go to class."
Later the teacher explained to Steve what she had done. She explained how she took away the threat of a bad grade so that Robin could learn English literature. Robin ended up making straight A's on her own in that class.
That's how God deals with us. Because of Christ's finished work, Christians already have an A. The threat of failure, judgment, and condemnation has been removed. We're in -- forever! Nothing we will do will make our grade worse.
My wife told me, "That is so foreign compared to everything I have heard all of my life." But it is Gospel. It is beautiful. It is freedom. It is not about performing by trying to fulfill a bunch of rules, it is about being set free to do our best and know that God has already accepted us.