I recently heard a preacher say that salvation is 99% Jesus Christ but 1% us. I have heard this before. God does everything necessary for salvation (99%) but we must come, confess, repent, etc. (1%) to accomplish the last part of salvation. Do you agree?
Although I know that theologically this is ridiculous (how could I ever add to Jesus' complete work on the cross!!?), I must admit that this theory appeals to me. I know that I can’t earn my own salvation in any way, but I live my life many times as if it were up to me to maintain that salvation (how do you maintain a gift after all anyway? Then it is no longer a gift!). Again, theologically, I know that I can’t lose my salvation, but I think at times that God is somehow more pleased with me when I perform well and less pleased when I fail.
As a teenager, I cringed under the definition of grace. I thought it was so unfair! I was an obedient, good, well mannered teenager, who didn’t rebel against her parents like other teenagers I knew. I thought it was unfair that God gave them the same grace and forgiveness as a believer that he gave me. How arrogant and wrong I was!
Let’s talk about fairness briefly. Salvation is not “fair”. Jesus, fully God, taking on the form of man to live a perfect life among His sinful children, to die a gruesome death for them on the cross (He rose again), for a penalty of sin He never committed is NOT fair! Jesus atoning and forgiving me of my sin is NOT fair. Jesus giving me His righteousness in addition to complete, unconditional forgiveness is NOT fair! What IS fair is eternal damnation. What IS fair is God’s holy justice, which He has every right to execute.
I was no better than the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. They believed their lineage as Abraham's children and their faithfulness to the law of Moses was enough to merit God’s favor. Jesus had some strong words of rebuke for the Pharisees! At times I act as if I think the same. If I join this church, attend this prayer meeting, go on this mission trip, donate this money, witness to this neighbor then I am a good Christian and God will be pleased with me.
It is no secret I am a performance-oriented person. I tend to derive my value and worth from how well I perform. Again, I can tell myself mentally that this isn’t true, but in daily life, many times, I live my life as if it were true. I think if I am a better wife, friend, woman, etc. then God will be more pleased, or I will be an example of a good Christian.
Allow me to insert one thought. I am not saying we should not aim to be good spouses, parents, friends, etc. Of course, we want to love others. My point is that our worth before God is not based on the performance of those things, nor His pleasure or dissatisfaction with us based on our performance.
Living our lives based on performing perfectly results in catastrophe. First, we are living based on a false Gospel. Second, we are operating out of a false hope. If my hope originates from pleasing God based on my performance, I WILL FAIL—and be exhausted! Have you ever tried moving a wall by beating your head against it? The result? The wall remains and your head hurts! A false hope results in despair, despondency and utter discouragement. Sure, if you are strong, you tell yourself you will do better next time and off you go…go…go…go. It’s always the same trying and failing, resulting in more frustration and discouragement. Do you ever just get tired of it?
Second, realize your hope is in the finished work of Jesus Christ, not how well you perform as a believer.
Every day, I still find myself striving to be smarter, faster, better. And every day, I am disappointed at some point. I must learn to LET GO. Let go of performing…let go of trying to impress or please God (as if I ever could!!), let go of my own expectations of myself.
When I rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, I have rest. I have peace. I have hope.