Tullian Tchividjian, in his book, Jesus + Nothing = Everything, makes this statement in the acknowledgements: "I'm beginning to realize that the gospel is way more radical, offensive, liberating, shocking, and counter intuitive than any of us realize ...the gospel is good but not safe."
It makes me think about the gospel I used to believe. The one where all I have to do is follow a formula like, "Hear, believe, repent, confess, be baptized" or any of the other formulas that pronounce us "saved," and the gospel I have come to believe. The one where I actually have to love God and be more and more filled with him thereby emptying myself more and more of self.
The more I dig into the life of Jesus and God's word, the more I see the lunacy of my previous beliefs. It was as if I believed that I could hold God accountable for my interpretation of His word. Like I could get to the pearly gates and argue my way in.
ME: I'm here, and here is my baptismal certificate. Open up the gates!
GOD: What else do you have there?
ME: I got my diploma from seminary. Signed, sealed, and Cum Laude.
GOD: Nice. You learn a lot there? What is that paper?
ME: Tax returns. I tithed on all I earned. After taxes. That is right, isn't it? I really gotta plead ignorance there, the Bible was not clear on that one.
GOD: Anything else?
ME: Certified letter, long-time church member, signed by the Pastor and all the Elders. Got all my Sunday School attendance pins stuck on the bottom. All that metal, almost didn't make it past the metal detectors on the way here. (Chuckle) So what do you say?
NEXT: (Trembling, face down, face down, drenched in blood)
GOD: Welcome, my child, enter into paradise.
ME: Excuse me, why does he get in? I saw no certificates, tax-stubs, nothing. Just a dirty man covered in blood.
GOD: That blood he was covered in was the blood of my Son. It is the only thing that you need to get in, and without it, you have nothing.
ME: Where can I get that?
GOD: You don't get it, I already gave it for you. But your hands are too full of those other things. I am truly sorry.
ME: (At a loss for words, knowing it is too late. Finally trembling. Face down. Covered in sweat.)
Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’"