Amazing Grace may be the national anthem of the American Church: a hymn about unmerited favor “that saved a wretch like me.” It’s easier to sing it than to believe it. In fact, listen to many conversations among evangelicals today and you begin to hear a very different lyric: “I am entitled to follow Jesus.”
You could call us the Entitled Generation of the Church. Terms like grace and faith are familiar to us all, but in our hearts, we take a lot of pride in the things we try to do.
- We go to church religiously- but not as religiously as 10 years ago.
- We resist a few of the sins so popular in the culture today.
- We purchase Bibles, talk about prayer, and encourage others to be good.
- Many believe this entitles us to privileges in heaven and in the church.
Grace is God’s response to the shattering conviction that I am spiritually bankrupt and have nothing of lasting value within me. I know I need grace because my bad behavior and toxic attitudes loom so prominently in my rear view mirror! When the Gospel finally penetrates my heart and produces the fruit of faith, the process is completely divine.
- The Spirit of God has convicted me.
- The blood of Christ has covered my sins in the eyes of the Father.
- The righteousness of Christ has been deposited in my spiritual account.
- I have been granted something amazing: a new nature.
- Because of God’s faithfulness, I will eventually arrive in Heaven.
Not all children of God enjoy prosperity, health and acclaim here on the Earth. You’d have to be a pretty superficial follower of Christ to overlook the fact that Jesus and 11 of the Original Twelve Apostles did not live in affluence or die in lavish palaces. John wrote Revelation from a penal colony on an forsaken island, and Paul wrote most of his letters from prison. Where were the happy endings for these guys? Weren’t they entitled?
William Tyndale translated the New Testament into English and for this he was forced to live as an outlaw, darting from one hiding place to another, until he was apprehended and executed. Lottie Moon gave up the comforts of a privileged life in America to teach children in China. She died in a famine there, starving because she had given all her food rations to the orphans. She clearly fell short of the Prosperity Gospel, huh?
As Christ prepared to embrace the cross and ultimately depart for glory, he left some parting thoughts for his apostles and disciples. Mark 13 makes it clear there are hard times ahead: rejection, unpopularity, loneliness, suffering and death. The bottom line is this: “On one hand, you’ll have adversity. On the other hand, you’ll always have Me!”
Some of us have the privilege of standing on the shoulders of others. We get to realize the dreams they first dreamed. We get to draw interest on movements they paid dearly to launch. The comfort and acclaim they missed entirely won’t last long for us either. The destiny we all share in Christ is where the lasting treasures will be found.
When Christ returns, we all get our happy ending. But it’s not the one we deserve. As hard as we try, we will always choose self and fall short. But when the Spirit of God grants us a clear vision of Christ’s love and our failures, a powerful transaction is made possible. We trade our rags for his robe of righteousness; our poverty for his presence. Grace is amazing because he allows us to forfeit everything we truly deserve, and experience a destiny that is far above our pay grade and beyond our wildest ambitions.
To hear Cole Floyd’s anointed message that inspired this blog, click here. And in the meantime, lift up the Cross!