The instinct to self-atone runs deep in our hearts. We want to make amends for our sin on our own. But God has done it all through Christ because of his grace, his undeserved love to us. Grace is so simple to understand and yet so hard to grasp. It’s not its complexity that makes it difficult. The problem is that we seem to be hard-wired to think we must do something to make God favorably disposed toward us. We want to take the credit. But all the time God is saying, “In my love I gave my Son for you. He’s done everything needed to secure my blessing. I love you as you are, and I accept you in him.” God can’t love you more than he does now, no matter how much you change your life. And God won’t love you less than he does now, no matter what a mess you make of your life. – Tim Chester, You Can Change
How do we get “hard-wired to think we must do something to make God favorably disposed toward us”? For some of us it may be our upbringing. When I was a kid my dad seemed disappointed in me when I didn’t do well on the baseball field. He loved baseball so much and was so good at it, that when I didn’t do well I felt I was letting him down. He wasn’t a Christian then and I’m sure he’d be much different now. Even though I knew better, I still did the same thing to my kids at times. Sometimes when they failed in some way or confessed a sin, my facial expression conveyed that their performance had let me down. I so regret ever doing that. Perhaps we get this self-atonement idea from our society – nothing is free. We have to earn everything we can get. So we’re not used to gifts – everything has a catch. It’s so foreign to think that God loves us simply because he has redeemed us and sees us in Christ and accepts us in him, not because anything we do but because of everything Christ did. Grace is so foreign to us – there must be a catch.
Because believers are in union with Christ, when God looks at us he sees Christ and loves us in Christ. Because of Jesus, not us.
So remember “God can’t love you more than he does now, no matter how much you change your life. And God won’t love you less than he does now, no matter what a mess you make of your life.”