The Danger Christian Schools and Businesses Face

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There is an insidious danger lurking in the midst of Christian organizations.  It is a danger so camouflaged and deceptive that it not only goes unnoticed, but has found a way to be accepted as what is good, right, and holy.  It is has become so honored that it is often accepted and adopted into the organization’s goals and mission statement.  As it does, it destroys the very fiber and essence of the gospel.  It distorts the reality of the Kingdom and paints a picture of God that is counter to all that He is and does.

What could be so rogue and deceptive?  What could cause such destruction? What could be missed and adopted as good and holy?  It is the belief that favor comes from God based on our behavior.  It is idea that greater blessing comes to those who do good and condemnation comes to those who do wrong.

The message of Jesus was completely counter to this idea.  He taught men to love their enemies, do good to those hate them, pray for those who spitefully use them, and to offer the other cheek to those who strike them.  That is radically different that performance based behavior.  That is good being given to those who do wrong.  The ways of God are foreign to the ways of this world and to what is natural within us.

Yet woven into the fiber of countless  Christian schools, businesses, and organizations is the teaching that greater favor from God awaits those who perform.

In Christian schools, students are challenged to higher grades, better behavior, and spiritual achievements under the promise that these actions will make them more pleasing to God.  Those who achieve the ultimate of Christian standards are given awards recognizing them as better Christians.  Those who don’t perform up to standard are said to bring upon themselves the disappointment, sadness, and anger of God. 

In Christian businesses, including larger churches, employees are challenged to greater service, diligence, and sacrifice under the promise that these actions will make them more pleasing to God.  The antithesis of these are said to bring the judgment of God.  Those who don’t achieve are motivated by guilt, pressure, and the necessity of improving their performance for the sake of God’s favor.

Don’t get me wrong, it is good for students to work toward better behavior and improved grades.  It is good for employees to work harder and serve more diligently.  It is good to strive toward a standard and healthy to press toward a goal.  But let us be very careful about how we view our progress toward those goals with how God’s heart toward us.

The cross of Jesus shows that God relates to man in a way that is far different than we know or understand.  He does not love and show favor based on performance.  He does something uncharacteristic.  He does something upside down.  He does something that is higher and far above the ways of man.

He loved us while we were still sinners.

He reconciled us to Himself while we were still enemies.

He shows greater grace where there is great sin.

He forgives before we ask for forgiveness.

That is far different than the ways of man.  That is counter to the idea that favor comes based on behavior.  He gives favor in the presence of bad behavior.  He lavishes and overwhelms love and grace upon the undeserving.  He does not give greater favor based on greater performance.  He gives grace and says that it is ours apart from performance.  He says it is ours by faith.  It is available to those who come to end of their efforts to earn.  It is received by the humble.

The Gospel is the good news that there is forgiveness, love, freedom, and release from our guilt.  It is the message that something has done for us that we could never do for ourselves.  It is the overwhelming news that there is no more condemnation and no more pressure to have to perform to earn favor.

So what are Christian schools, businesses, and organizations to do?

Again, it is good and right to press toward a goal of good grades, better behavior, and improved performance.  But let us be clear.  These in no way earn a greater smile, favor, or blessing from God.  He has already shown the fullness of His favor through His Son.  He has poured out every spiritual blessing through Jesus.  We don’t honor Him so He will honor us.  We don’t bless Him so He will bless us.  We don’t cause Him to frown because we fail.  We don’t cause Him to be disappointed because we didn’t measure up.

The New Covenant says favor has come and that it is ours to receive by faith!  As we do, it ignites within us a passion to love and serve.  Fullness ignites fervor.  Grace ignites giving.  The loved long to love.  The forgiven forge to forgive.  Those who believe they are made fully righteous seek to live righteously.  They have the fruit of the New Covenant: the law of God is written on their hearts. They find joy in humility.  The beatitudes of Jesus come alive in their heart apart from rule, pressure, and command.  What they receive becomes what they do.  Performance comes out of knowing blessing; not the other way around.

Imagine the potential of a school, business, church, organization, or family that lived to instill the wonder of the cross and grace.  Imagine the power of a new generation of students and people who believed and received that they were forgiven and made righteous apart from their behavior.  Imagine what would happen as they discovered the overwhelming.

This is the hope of the Gospel.

This is the power of the Cross of Jesus.

This is the cry of the grace revolution.

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6 responses to “The Danger Christian Schools and Businesses Face

  1. Brian
    I have forwarded to a friend of mine in Germany. What is even more alarming, is all the abuse that takes place in His name towards those who don’t perform according to the standards set by these orginizations. We just don’t have an idea how much our Lord are against such lies, for it closes the door of heaven in the faces of countless persons.
    Thanks again for this thoughtful post.
    Mia

  2. Hi, Brian, I’m Markus Mia’s friend… allow me to elaborate on your wonderful truth you made such good display of by showing how Jesus thought of Himself:
    And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? NO ONE IS GOOD EXCEPT GOD ALONE.(Mark 10:17+18)
    … and this is our problem! We think… though we would never say it aloud, of course!!!… we can be and do “good” if we just put “all of us” in our efforts we perceive as good.
    True and lasting good just comes from God alone… by Him prepaing IN ADVANCE what you and I do follow in later (Eph. 2:10).
    There is no good in us and the only thing expected from us is abiding in Him… then He will make all the good coming forth… GOOD PLEASING IN HIS EYES! (Jo. 15:5)
    Our affection should never turn around what we do, what we are… but around JESUS alone. A we draw near to Him, consumed by Him alone His glory will become manifest in us (2.Cor. 3:17+18)
    Our pride never will allow this… and so this guy has to die!
    Soli Deo Gloria!

    • Thanks so much Markus!

      You are right! We would never admit it, but it is part of what our flesh wants to do in regards to salvation. The underlying teaching of many churches is that salvation is by grace alone, but after you get it you had better start working at it. The truth is that we are made fully righteous by faith and not by our efforts – not for salvation and not after salvation! It causes us to glory even more in the cross when we accept the fullness of His grace completely by faith!

      Blessings to you!

  3. As Chrisitains, though, aren’t we called to live lives that are pleasing to God? Clearly, it shouldn’t be viewed as a matter of salvation, but all of us are to work as if working for the Lord. As with most things, it seems like a matter of balance.

    • Thanks Bob for the question!

      The real question then becomes “what is pleasing to God?” The Scripture says that without faith it is impossible to please God. The most pleasing thing we can do is believe and receive what He has done for us through His Son – forgiveness, acceptance, holiness, freedom, love, and so much more! If we were to measure our efforts and behavior as what was pleasing, then we would also have to measure all of the times that we don’t live righteously. We would find ourselves in quite a problem then. The Scribes and Pharisees lived hoping to be pleasing to God. They did so through their efforts at keeping the law. They sought to define their righteousness by the actions. They could not accept the righteousness that came by faith (see Romans 10). As a result, Jesus was very displeased with them! We have been made pleasing by the sacrifice of Jesus. We experience that pleasure when we receive and believe it by faith.

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