On Monday, I will give my full review of Tullian Tchividjian's new book, Jesus + Nothing = Everything. As I read the book, there were many parts that impacted me. He shows how the gospel is often misunderstood, even by the Christians. This is seen in many ways in our lives. There are so many parts of the book that I want to share, but I know there would be no time in one review. Therefore, over the next couple of days leading up to the review, I am going to share some that did not quite make the final review cut, but still greatly impacted me.
One concept that he talks about often is understanding that our identity, when rooted in the gospel, rips away any concept of works. When we fully understand what it means to be "in Christ" as the Apostle Paul talks about, we should feel a sense of freedom in our identity of trying to please others. He quotes Paul Zahl, from his book, Who Will Deliver Us.
"If I can do enough of the right things, I will have established my worth. Identity is the sum of my achievements. Hence, if I can satisfy the boss, meet the needs of my spouse and children, and still do justice to my inner aspirations, then I will have proven my worth. There are infinite ways to prove our worth along these lines. The basic equation is this: I am what I do. It is a religious position in life because it tries to answer in practical terms the question, Who am I and what is my niche in the universe? On this reading, my niche is in proportion to my deeds. In Christian theology, such a position is called justification by works. It assumes that my worth is measured by my performance. Conversely, it conceals, thinly, a dark and ghastly fear: If I do not perform, I will be judged unworthy. To myself I will cease to exist." (132)
Tullian then comments on this quote by saying:
"The gospel frees us from this pressure to perform, this slavish demand to 'become.' The gospel liberatingly declares that in Christ 'we already are.' If you're a Christian, here's the good news: who you really are has nothing to do with you--how much you can accomplish, who you can become, your behavior (good or bad), your strengths, your weaknesses, your sordid past, your family background, your education, your looks, and so on. Your identity is firmly anchored in Christ's accomplishment, not yours; his strength, not yours; his performance, not yours; his victory, not yours. Your identity is steadfastly established in his substitution, not in your sin." (132-3)
Wow! Do you feel free or are you spinning the wheels of your life trying to please everyone else in your life? Do you feel as though if you work hard enough and your boss or spouse accepts you, then you have arrived? If so, maybe you need a good dose of the gospel to meditate upon!