I had heard about Echo Dale a couple of months ago but finally got there three weeks back. It reminds me of Springwater back in my ol stomping grounds. It’s a small man-made lake that I enjoyed on a Saturday. The sun was great, it wasn’t particularly crowded, so I grabbed my new beach chair and drank in the heat. I took Bonita and the girls there when they were out for a visit and we found a good spot pretty close to the lifeguard chair.
A young guy swaggered up and started chatting up the lifeguard. He seemed to kinda like her and I heard bits of the conversation and he said something like ‘I can do a backflip.’ And he proceeded to do it right from the ground. He started on his feet, did the flip, and then landed on his feet…right before my eyes. (I would need a wrestling ring to do that kind of thing! Sure…) Anyway, I was impressed, but the lifeguard…not so much. He asked her out that evening and I couldn’t hear her response but her body language was a definite ‘thumbs down’. He walked away strutless.
I wonder how many of us try to do backflips to impress Jesus? We may work really hard at sharing our faith or consistency in Bible reading or kindness or involvement in the church body to gain a couple more brownie points with our King. We may be tempted to try really hard at being good to impress Jesus about our commitment to Him.
The gang from Galatia had a history of doing this kinda thing. Paul said they had turned to a different gospel: really a false gospel. Works were involved in their false gospel and Paul told them that anyone who brought this foreign gospel, should be eternally condemned and then he repeated himself for emphasis sake right in the first chapter. It was a strong warning right out of the gate.
It is so easy to move from salvation by grace to salvation by grace sprinkled with good works. We are tempted to sing, ‘We owe…we owe…so off to work we go’ but we can never pay the debt off. The price of our sin is too high and our wallets are too flat. Only the precious blood of the Perfect Saviour could pay off the debt…and keep the debt payed off.
Paul asks a rhetorical question when he writes: Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? (Galatians 3:2 ESV)
The answer is crystal clear: hearing with faith. We didn’t do good stuff to earn anything because only the work of the Perfect God-man on the old rugged timbers could pay the debt. We don’t do spiritual backflips to be accepted, to be more accepted, or to stay accepted. We are accepted by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8). Period.
I don’t know about you, but when I blow it big time, I put my hand to the plough trying to regain God’s acceptance by working really hard. I want to work my way back. What I need to do is come to Him in repentance and faith and accept His grace…accept His forgiveness. I also need to be mindful of that relationship that will never change (Philippians 1:6, Hebrews 13:4, Jude :24-25).
Paul Washer has said, ‘I have given God countless reasons not to love me [as His child]. None of them has been strong enough to change Him.’
Backflips may be found in the high school gym, at the Olympics, or on the beach to impress a pretty girl, but doing them to try and gain or regain God’s favour or to stay in God’s family is not to be the thinking of a blood bought believer.