I used to get really ticked about preachers who talked too much about grace, because they tempted me to not be disciplined. I figured what people needed was a kick in the butt.... I believed if word got out about grace, the whole church was going to turn into a brothel. I was a real jerk, I think. — Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz
Is there anything wrong with reading your Bible every day? Of course not.
Is there anything wrong with wanting to pray every day? Of course not.
But here’s what some of us do: We come up with a contract — a plan of action that we think will make us better Christians and produce fruits of godliness in our lives. Then we get pretty proud of ourselves when we stick to the contract. We start to notice others don’t have contracts like ours, compare ourselves to them, and feel better about ourselves because we are “godlier” since our faith is being supplemented by so many spiritual exercises.
It’s a workout. But is it working out?
There are those of us who have made up a contract and realize that everyone else in the world could probably keep this contract except us. So we suck it up, make a new spiritual New Year’s resolution, and try again (or finally give it up) because deep down, we know we stink at contracts. So each morning we wake up and count up the number of failures from the day before, and pretty soon we feel like the bottom turd in the manure pile of spiritual immaturity.
Whether we’re really proud of ourselves or really beating ourselves up doesn’t matter. Contracts with ourselves never end well. The end is either self-righteousness or self-condemnation. The same thing is missing from both scenarios — Jesus — faith, trust, and intimacy with Jesus who alone can lead us in the dance.
By saying we need to supplement our faith with works and contracts, what we are really saying is Jesus isn't enough.
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)
No, Jesus really is enough. And not just enough — He becomes more than we could ever imagine when we say no to contracts and walk with Him by faith, moment by moment, song by song.
Jesus, I know You are enough. I have this memorized but not internalized. I desire more — more intimacy, more adventure — but rather than turning to You, I fill up with the latest spiritual workout. I'm shredding the contract — whatever deal I've made with myself, I'm ripping it up. It's just You and me. And that's exactly enough. Now... lead me please.... Amen.