Grace, Not Grades
My parents used to give my siblings and I money for what types of grades we got in school. We got the most cash for an A, a little bit for a B and nothing for a C or below. At the time, I think it was a good motivation to excel in school.
However, I noticed that this carried over into other areas of my life. I think that sometimes we view our Christian walk like a grading scale. The Christians who get A’s have either been through a lot, they’ve led a lot of people to Christ or they’ve done something else spectacular. Mother Teresa or David Livingstone would surely get an A. Growing up, I would also view persecuted Christians, those who have really stood their ground in the midst of a fiery trial as A+ Christians.
It became easy for me to think that in the United States, with the life that I had been given, I would be a grade B Christian at best. I thought I wasn’t a superhero Christian and even if I wanted to be maybe I would have to move to the Middle East or something.
Then I learned some good news: God doesn’t give out grades like the school does. God shows no favoritism. Jesus shows this when he tells a parable about workers in a vineyard. Each of the workers was given the same payment even though they started working at different times. (Matthew 20:1–16) In fact, God doesn’t like grades, he likes grace. Ephesians 2:8–9 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
This grace is an enormous relief to me and it purifies my motives. However, it doesn’t give me the right to coast in apathy simply because I’m not being threatened for my faith or undergoing severe persecution. The Christian walk is about intimacy with Christ and advancing God’s kingdom on earth. Both of those things are not dictated by the circumstances around us or the country we live in.
In the United States though, you might have to fight to keep your edge. You might have to look for people who are in need, you might have to pursue Christ and read his word even when you don’t feel like it. God doesn’t want us to just look at what is happening overseas and feel sorry for people and other Christians who are suffering. He wants us to stand with them. And He wants you to pursue Christ here, where you live; He wants you to reach out to your neighbors, co–workers, family and friends with the love of Christ.
Discipleship should still cost us everything, even if we are never put to the test to give it all away for Christ. So my encouragement to you is to pursue Jesus and His heart for the world recklessly, no matter where you are at or what you are going through. And don’t do this to get an A, but do this because Christ is worthy.
Now it’s your turn: What are ways you can live with passionate abandon for Christ in the United States?
“Grace Taylor” serves on the staff of VOM. She was first introduced to the ministry of VOM by her parents and grandparents, who received the VOM newsletter, and through the VOM book Jesus Freaks. She has served in 12 different countries and is passionate about helping expand God’s Kingdom throughout the nations of the world.