I’ve been a Christian for almost nine years now and at this point in my spiritual journey I’m starting to have some favorite chapters in the Bible. One of my favorites is Titus 3:
“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit”
Titus 3: 1-5 (NIV)
One of the most counter-cultural themes in the Bible is that God loves us although we do not deserve his love. Our societies are built based on a “you get what you deserve”-mentality. We realize that you don’t always get what you deserve in life. Sometimes you do all the hard work and someone else still gets the promotion, but we like the idea of getting what we deserve. We also love the idea of others getting what they deserve, especially when they have done something wrong. Forgiveness and grace is something we don’t like very much when it comes to other people, but we do expect others to forgive us.
One huge difference between Christianity and all other world religions is that Christianity is not about getting what we deserve. God does not love us because we have earned his love or because we are such good people. God sees all our thoughts and actions, he sees our messy lives and he loves us anyway. Most of us have only experienced the kind of love that humans can give us, so we learn early on to hide our messes and only show the beautiful side of ourselves. The sad truth is that we have learned that people won’t always love us if we show them our real selves. God on the other hand, knows every single mistake we have ever done and loves us despite all that. There is nothing we could ever do in this life to loose God’s love for us. God doesn’t love the way humans love, God’s love is perfect and never fails.
God doesn’t invite us into his family because we have done so many good deeds. We can never earn our way to heaven, it’s a free gift. We receive this gift by “opening the door to our hearts” and letting God in. It’s our faith that saves us, not our long lists of good deeds. One of the most encouraging things about the gospel is that we don’t change ourselves so that God can love and accept us. God loves and accepts us just the way we are, and then He starts to transform us from the inside out through the Holy Spirit. The only thing we do is decide if we will open up to God when he knocks on the door of our hearts or if we will slam the door shut in his face. God has given us free choice, we can choose to embrace his love or we can choose to reject him.