Recently a friend shared about a stressful relationship– someone was texting her repeatedly, and she felt terror that she might misstep and make the relationship worse. My friend isn’t perfect, of course, so she was wanting to be wise and cautious in how she responded.
Eventually, she was in tears, asking for input and prayer that she wouldn’t mess it up. I did pray for her, but I also reminded her:
Sister, your hope is not in your perfection!
It’s an easy truth to forget.
Even as Christians, we can begin to believe an anti-gospel.
AN ANTI-GOSPEL CHRISTIANS SOMETIMES BELIEVE
We can believe that, “if we act right, X will happen.” Then we insert all kinds of things into that “X” —
- this relationship will be healthy.
- she will stop gossiping about me.
- my child won’t have academic struggles.
- that person won’t behave in XYZ ways toward me.
- I won’t have health problems.
- our relatives will want mutually-enjoyable, long-term relationships.
- I’ll have a good marriage.
- my work relationships will be fruitful and at rest.
- our children will all follow Jesus.
The trouble is, even if we COULD pull off “perfect” behavior, God has built this world so that we don’t get to control that second part of the sentence. Even IF we “act right,” we can’t make X happen as a result. (But really — psst — that’s a mercy!)
Even if you did everything “right” to try to fix it–
- your relatives or friend might be someone who is addicted to drama and stress in relationships.
- that fellow church-member might never like you.
- your child very well might struggle academically, spiritually, morally, or physically.
- the flu, Lyme, cancer, MS, or leukemia may yet come your way.
- your marriage may not look like that “ideal” you read about.
- that person may always behave in rotten ways.
- you can lose jobs, or lose respect on the job.
- your children may not actually desire to love and serve King Jesus with their lives.
“Act right; get right results” is a lie. And for the Christian, our highest example of this is Jesus Himself.
We don’t always realize it when we’ve veered off-course and started to believe an anti-Gospel.
For me, I didn’t “get it” until we went through a years-long trial. We obeyed God’s Word in addressing an issue, but that relationship/situation never recovered. For years, we tried everything to repair it– to actively pursue peace– but nothing worked. In fact, the longer we tried, the worse it got.
Eventually, that person began gossiping– privately and publicly lying and slandering my husband. It was painful, but the situation taught me that I was believing an anti-Gospel.
Afterward, I could look back and see more clearly–
Part of the reason I pressed that we should try, and try, and try some more is because I was believing that if we just did everything “right,” it would surely turn out right. And that is simply not true.
It’s an anti-gospel.
We don’t try to do what’s right in order to get the right result. We obey God because we love Him and because it’s the right thing to do.
But even as we obey God, we must trust the results to Him, and not look to the results as a verdict on how “good” or “bad” we did.
When the prophets of God spoke truthful words of warning and danger, people hated them, sought their lives, and they often lived chaotic lives of random provision with intermittent seasons of depression. When Jesus and His disciples did things “right,” they encountered slander, hatred, seething, attacks, disdain, and betrayal. When Paul and early Christians sought to serve the communities around them and share the Gospel, they were beaten, stoned, run out of cities, condemned to death.
Good outcomes are not equivalent to God’s pleasure.
Difficult outcomes don’t mean something was poorly done.
And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, and revealed to the eyes of Him with whom we have to give account.Hebrews 4:13 (Amplified)
God moves according to His own will, and in the end, every thing will be seen in the light of God.
Thus, when we hit situations where we feel our hope turning toward our own perfectionism, let’s bolster our own hearts with this truth:
Our hope is NOT in ourselves. Our hope is in the Lord–
- the one who SEES everything
- the one who HEARS our prayers
- the one who will DO what is best
- the one who WILL make all things right, in the end.
Grace and Peace,