I believe it. I live it. So do my kids. Likely, so do you and nearly everyone you know. What is “it” that I’m talking about? The “it” is the ideal that we live our lives, as a whole, trying to work and earn things. Whether it is school or work rewards, financial rewards, or even the love of others, we almost universally are trying to earn it all.
This ideal of working to receive something applies to spirituality and religion around the world as well. Worldwide religions, each having their own set of rules and regulations, base a person’s salvation (whether that is an eternal reward, or reincarnation, etc) on a person’s performance during this life. If you do enough good things (at least more good than bad things), then the spiritual power will accept and love you. Ultimately, we are working to earn acceptance of a higher power or authority.
Most people, and myself included for many years, think Christianity uses this same concept: a Christian goes to Heaven to be with God in paradise only if they do (get out the checklist!) more good than bad. However, this is totally, 100% false! Christianity is centered solely on grace. Grace is what makes Christianity 100% unlike any and all other religions!
Grace, defined as “unmerited favor rendered by one who need not do so”, is a free gift from God. We don’t have to earn God’s acceptance or love? The definitive answer is a resounding No! God loves each of us and came here to show us. This is what we celebrate this time of year: Immanuel, God with us! All each of us has to do is accept Jesus Christ as our savior. Faith in Him and His life, death, and resurrection is all that is needed to be accepted by God. In John 6:29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
In our world, “unmerited”, or unconditional, favor or rewards or love is so difficult for most of us to understand and accept. However, grace is the power of the gospel of Jesus, and it’s what makes Christianity the ultimate truth.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.