“Imagine yourself standing at a fork in the road, facing two different pathways to the spiritual life. One path has a sign that says “Pleasing God.” The other path has a sign that says “Trusting God.” Which path do you choose? You may not like the choice because you want to do both, but you can only take one path.
If you take the Pleasing God path, you will come to a door upon which is written “Striving.” You take hold of the doorknob of Self-effort and enter the room of Good Intentions. The person on this path desperately wants to please God and is striving to live a life that reflects that desire. However, the danger of this path is that our vocabulary will inevitably turn into “What must I do to keep God pleased? How do I keep God happy so that my life works?” That is where the Pleasing God path will always lead – more striving, more effort to try to keep God happy with us. It’s exhausting. It’s never enough. We can never do enough to please God. Many sincere Christians find themselves on this path and can’t imagine any other way to do the spiritual life. But there are some who are on this path and realize deep down that it’s not working. They long for a spirituality that is not rooted in fear, guilt and performing.
Thankfully, there is another route to choose at the fork in the road. The Trusting God path leads us to a door upon which is written “Brokenness.” As you take hold the doorknob of Humility, you enter into the room of Grace – God’s undeserved and unending love and favor poured out upon you. There are others in the room who are broken and sinful, just like you, and yet there is no competition or condemnation. The focus is on Christ and His sufficiency. As you experience the fullness of His grace, which is not dependent upon your ability or your performance, you are invited to lean upon Him more and more. In that dependence, you discover the very power and sufficiency of Christ flowing through you. You are freed to follow. Fear and guilt are no longer your motivation. Love is.
Two paths with very worthy objectives. But only one results in pleasing God; ironically, it is not the Pleasing God path! When we choose the path of Pleasing God, we end up neither pleasing Him nor learning to live by faith. Our spiritual lives are dependent upon our ability to follow. But when we choose the Trusting God path, continually admitting our brokenness and humbly embracing the sufficiency of Christ, we experience both trusting and pleasing God. Our spiritual lives are not driven by guilt, fear and shame but by love, faith, and gratitude.”
Alan Kraft, Good News for Those Trying Harder, 99-100.
Do you think of the Gospel as good advice or good news? Is your life shaped by “Get to business” or “It is finished” spirituality?
Is your worship motivated by working, earning and achieving or by accepting, resting and receiving? Is your hope rooted in what you do for Jesus or in what Jesus has done for you?
Rom 4:5, Matt 11:28, 2 Cor 12:9