Sunday, February 01, 2009

It's Not About Me

I began college at a liberal arts college, and I expected an "open minded" (read: liberal) environment of free thinkers. Instead I was surrounded by a lot of conservative Christians, and while I wasn't opposed to Christianity (or any other religion), I was agnostic--I didn't know if there was a God and didn't care to take the time to figure it out.

And as I observed those around me and their "virgin clubs," refusal to discuss the Bible in class (b/c it wasn't "literature to be discussed and dissected"), objections to required reading that referenced premarital sex, and the like, I determined that Christianity was about what I was not allowed to do. Not surprisingly it was unappealing to me, and I was certain that if I was ever going to seriously consider Christianity I needed to wait at least until I was at least out of college (b/c sex, drinking, etc. were entirely too fun).

I'm pretty sure it never occurred to me that Christianity isn't about me (no surprise there...I was as self-centered then as I am now)--that the Bible isn't about me or a set of moral principles I need to follow to be an adherent of the faith. As Tim Keller points out--there are only two ways to read the Bible: either as basically being about me or about Jesus. When I read it through the lense of being about me it can be boiled down to what I must do, and "as only principles of living, the Bible is a crushing burden." It's just an exhausting list of things I should and should not do.

Years later I slowly realized that the Bible isn't about me or what I must do; it's the story of what Jesus has done. "The Bible is not primarily a 'book of virtues.' It is the story of how God is redeeming us through Jesus Christ." As now that I read Scripture through this perspective, a weight is lifted. I'm so overcome by Christ's generosity--giving up everything for me on the cross--that I want to give myself, my money, and my time away. And as I reflect on His forgiveness and grace, I want to extend it to others. But in order to receive God's acceptance I don't have to do those things. Instead the gospel is "I am accepted by God through the work of Jesus Christ--therefore I obey."

Thus one of my wishes for those who aren't Christians is that they would at least understand what the gospel is--and not reject it as I did on the basis of a false premise. Christianity isn't morality. Christianity isn't about you or me. Grace cannot be earned. You don't have to do anything except believe (which I know isn't easy...it took years for me to take that leap of faith).

If you're interested in a fairly short summary of the gospel (133 short pages), check out The Prodigal God.

*All of the quotes are from Tim Keller ("Gospel Christianity" Bible study and The Prodigal God).
p.s. I'm grateful for two days of sunshine, being less sick today than yesterday, new songs, a fun Super Bowl party with friends, new recipes, and getting to see my students at PTM last week.

20 comments:

Flat Coke and Flies said...

Good post. I think the more simple we make God, Jesus, and the Bible, people would be more open to His lifestyle.

Ys said...

Wonderfully said :)

I was exactly the same as you. It was only when I got away from religious people that I actually found my faith. I haven't forgotten you asked me to tell the story of how I "found" God... I will blog about that soon, I promise ;)

OK Chick said...

Good post. You explained this very well.

What two recipes did you try?

TC said...

I love that 133 pages is a shortened version :)

Ally said...

TC: Ha! Obviously the Bible has some much shorter summaries of the gospel....I just happened to have just finished this book and really enjoyed it (and wished it had been around ten years ago when I was trying to figure out what I believe).

OK Chick: I'll post it this week. Yummy!

Ys: I'll look forward to reading.

FC&F: Yeah, us sinners like to make everything so complicated :)

Ally said...

FC&F: I just ran across this quote, and it made me think of your comment.

“The message of the gospel is that you are saved by grace through Christ’s work and nothing else at all. As soon as you add anything to it, you have lost it entirely.”

- Timothy Keller

MaryFran said...

Very good post!

HappyascanB said...

I love it! When at first I read your title, I thought it might be about the Max Lucado book, It's Not About Me. Very good read. Like you, I had to have that news flash: It ain't about you, B!!!

Isabella said...

Love this post! I just started reading The Prodigal God, also. I've considered writing a post related to it - good stuff. Thanks for sharing this perspective - you really have a gift for expressing God's work in your life.

Jennifer said...

I really enjoyed your thoughts here. I love hearing of how others come to faith and what they think of the Bible, etc. It has been in the last couple of years that I have found the freedom that there is in walking with Christ. It's not about all of these things I SHOULD be doing, it's about Him and how HE works through me - even when I don't know it sometimes!

W T G said...

Well written Ally. It is not about a religion but a relationship.

KennethSF said...

I actually read the Bible as background material for a literature class that focuses on Milton's Paradise Lost. Its status a sacred book aside, the Bible also contains so many verses and passages that are of great poetic beauty in their own right.

Flat Coke and Flies said...

Good quote---I enjoyed it. There is such simplicity in God's love.

Jamie said...

Good post--definitely makes me think!

Cat_Chaser said...

Ok, you're one super cool Christian:) But I have issues with pharasaical ones.

Princess Extraordinaire said...

So well written and so true - Jesus gave up so much for us and it is awe inspriring to see how we can give back to Him...

Ally said...

PE: He did give up so much for us--and it seems like all the more when I see how sinful and unworthy I am.

CC: Thanks...but I gotta admit that from time to time I struggle with being like a pharisee :( Work in progress!

Jamie: Good!

FC&F: Agreed.

KennethSF: You're right. Before I had read it I often felt culturally illiterate--there are so many references, etc. from it in great literature too.

WTG: Exactly!

Jennifer: You're right....I never thought I'd feel so much more free in Christ than I did "doing whatever I wanted."

Isabella: Thank you friend. You do too.

B: I've not read that book, but I think my sister gave it to me about 6 years ago....I need to get on that:)

MaryFran: Thank you.

Seized by Hope said...

GREAT Post Ally.

Thanks.

Aaron said...

Hey, now you can start your very own "Born-Again-Virgin" club. ;)

P.S.

I'm no longer a member -- FINALLY! :P

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