This post will be short but with more to come later. I feel as though God has brought me on a journey over the past several years. I wrote this a while back, and only now I feel like God is providing answers. There have been a lot of little moments along the way that have slowly opened my eyes to revelations about myself and about God. And I picked up this book several months ago…
Good News for Those Trying Harder by Alan Kraft
I’ve read it and it makes me wonder, “how did I not get this about God?”
It is a huge paradigm shift in the way I’ve viewed and related to God and the way I live my life.
The major premise from the book:
“Do you remember your initial experience with Christ when you realized with a heavy heart the depth of your sin and at the same moment the sufficiency of His grace to meet you in that place? That was the music of the gospel. Wasn’t it glorious?
But unfortunately… the life-giving melodies of brokenness and faith unintentionally get drowned out by a growing and incessant drumbeat that sounds so spiritual: “Just try harder. Just try harder. Just try harder.” The cadence of this drumbeat begins to drive our spiritual lives. “You were broken, but now you are getting better. If you do these things Christians are supposed to do, you will continue to grow spiritually – becoming more holy, sinning less and less. God will be more and more pleased with you because of how Christlike you are becoming.”
Without even realizing it, the melody of brokenness gets replaced by the march of self-effort; the melody of faith gets overtaken by the relentless drumbeat of performance… We stop hearing the music of the gospel and begin pursuing a spiritual growth path that is actually removed from the gospel!” (page 24)
The paradigm shift for me is this: I’ve always known that we are saved by faith, not by works. I’ve understood God’s great grace in that. However, I’ve failed to see his grace in the living of my life. Even though I know in my head I can do nothing to make God love me more or less, I guess I’ve questioned whether or not he might like me more if I sinned less! And my spiritual growth has been largely about self-effort, not about God’s grace.
How did I get to this point in my spiritual life?
Well, I think in our culture, we are taught the benefits of self-improvement. Got something wrong? Go buy a book and fix it yourself. In the corporate world we talk about SMART goals and SWOT analysis. Self-effort is a heralded and sought-after quality.
But in the spiritual realm, this is anti-gospel. And so my paradigm shift.