Years ago, I was eating lunch at my favorite deli, and I got into a rather deep discussion with a man who was studying philosophy at a local university. Interestingly, he was not a Christian — or even an agnostic — he was a full-blown atheist. He was a really nice guy, and he used to eat there almost as often as I did, so I frequently had conversations with him. As we were engaging in a dialogue one day, he declared that the only reason I was a believer was because I didn’t want to go to hell when I died — I wanted to go to Heaven. When I rebutted his presumption, he took it a step further and told me that he was certain that I would not give up my place in Heaven to go to hell for someone I loved. Once again, I assured him that he was wrong and that I would readily go to hell for my wife or kids. Then, to add levity, I retorted that I probably wouldn’t go to hell for him though (and I think he believed me). At the end of our exchange, I shared with him that the beautiful thing about Christianity is that I don’t have to go to hell for anyone, because my Savior already did. In fact, this is what becoming a disciple of Jesus means — we trust in the work He finished. Unlike every other religion, all of which say you need to strive, drive, and work your way to right standing with God, ours says that we belong before we believe and before we behave. Because we were helpless to help ourselves, our Lord took care of the whole problem. Instead of requiring that we try for the rest of our days to live up to His standard, He paid the price, brought us into the fold, and blessed us with an opportunity to inherit abundant life by following in His footsteps.
My friend, Jesus did the work, so you can stop trying to earn His favor. If you’ve received His gift of salvation, you are totally and completely redeemed, and you have access to the most liberating, wonderful, and overflowing existence you’ll ever find. In Him, you are released from any need to prove your worth, and you don’t have to win the right to enjoy what you’ve been given. You are free indeed, and the more you embrace the treasure in this truth, the more your life will reflect your Savior’s heart, posture, and priorities.