We have no problem believing that we receive salvation through grace, but once we are saved we often believe the rest is up to us. We believe that the Christian life is about what we do more than what’s been done. We believe that our salvation was won on the cross, but that we can only keep hold of it through the daily grind of obedience.
Luther reminds us that we receive “a righteousness that comes completely from the outside.” It’s an alien work; we are completely passive recipients. And while we might give lip service to this theology, the daily reality of what Christians experience when they worship is “do more” and “try harder.”
No wonder people are leaving the Church.
If the Christian life is about being better, people will inevitably leave the Church the moment they realize they’ll always be failures. Christianity isn’t about being better and failing less; Christianity is about God meeting you in the midst of your failures and giving everything for you.
When religion is about what you do for God and not about the God who meets you when you’ve hit the bottom, it’s not preaching Jesus.
@@Unfortunately, you can find a lot of religion that sounds nothing like the Gospel.@@
So stupid is everybody today.
The question therefore is whether it is good to become a religious in our day. The answer is: If you think you cannot have salvation in any other way except by becoming a religious, do not even begin. For the proverb is so true: “Despair makes a monk,” actually not a monk but a devil.
Therefore examine yourself when you pray, when you make a sacrifice, when you enter the choir or do anything else whether you would do the same thing if you had your liberty, and then discover who you are in the eyes of God.
When you are burdened by the weight of the Law and crushed by your inability to be better, Jesus in His death and resurrection lifts the burdens. Jesus gives what Luther called “a longed for remedy” when He forgives sins freely. Jesus offers peace when sin torments your conscience. Jesus fights for you when you’ve got no fight left. Jesus saves sinners, even the worst of them.
This post is an excerpt from the upcoming book Reading Romans with Luther.