In the week leading up to Mother's Day, I took the opportunity to read a book directed at womanhood. I know, that sounds strange. Here I am, the evangelical gospel-loving pastor, who takes time to read a book addressing issues with women.
There are at least two reasons for this. First, I want to learn more about what women struggle with as this would hopefully, make me a better pastor. Second, my assumption is that the solution to a woman's struggle is not that much different than the solution to my problems, even though I am a man.
Both of those hopes were fulfilled in Marci Preheim's little book, Grace is Free. In this book, she shares how she grew up in a very fundamental home in which her lack of perfection told her that she was not good enough to be loved by God. That moved her to abandon the faith and run headlong into a sinful life. Thankfully, she eventually discovers the truth of grace in the gospel message.
Throughout the book, Preheim wonderfully shows how the gospel of grace penetrates and releases the heart from any sort of performance-based thinking. And there is one phrase that seems to come up over and over again. She consistently calls women (and men) to believe more, not do more.
I never perceived in her writing that she thinks the pendulum should swing so far to one side that a person never does things. It's just that it follows the believing. And so the greatest need for the woman (or man) is to trust Christ and believe more intentionally the truths of the gospel, not first do something. Believe, not perform. Let me share two quotes of many that explain her perspective on this thought of believing more instead of doing more.
"Both Leslie and I default to a 'striving' mode when we are not consciously believing the true gospel. It's in our DNA to feel like we are not praying hard enough, reading enough Scripture, or doing enough godly things to deserve God's favor. We fall into the mentality that somehow with Christian activity we can draw down God's favor upon us. Believing we have his favor no matter how we perform in a given day is the hardest thing for us to do" (51).
And then she writes,
"When it comes to the gospel, perspective is everything. I can easily default to what I grew up believing--that I can make myself better. It's the same individualistic lie the world promotes: do better, discipline yourself more, choose your own destiny, be somebody. But the gospel is a gift given to sinners who humble themselves before an almighty God, surrender to his plan, and gratefully receive the sacrifice he made on the cross to pay for their sins. It doesn't demand the spotlight--it doesn't demand anything" (122).
Obviously, this is not just a thought for women. I learned many things about women in this book. For instance, she shares how no women can ever live up to the standard of Proverbs 31 and to teach it as the standard probably hurts women more than helps them. But this book helped affirm to me how the gospel of grace impacts and heals from the temptation of performance. For that reason, I would highly recommend you to read this book!