What It’s All About

We live in a dream. We say to ourselves, I would be all right if only...

  • I could lose some weight and put down those Snickers bars.
  • I could go to the gym and work out regularly. (I’d have pecs like rocks and abs like a washboard.)
  • I could have plastic surgery—nose job, tummy tuck, rear lift, breast augmentation.
  • I wasn’t so clumsy in social situations. (I’d really wow ‘em.)
  • I had some taste and could decorate my house.
  • I could get organised.
  • I could stop drinking so much.
  • I could stop smoking.
  • I knew more—more doctrine, more science, more finance, more about investing.
  • I could just "do bettah."
  • I could clean up my act.

For some reason or other, we think Christianity aims at giving us all these things. We think of Christianity as a gigantic self-improvement movement: Dale Carnegie, Zig Ziglar, and Susan Powter, all rolled into one, the Holy Trinity of Self-Betterment.

These things may remove your embarrassment, but not your problem. The truth is, none of these (laudable or desirable as they may be) will make you "better" and none of them will cure you, because none of them addresses your real problem: the sin that makes you the enemy of the Almighty God. Only repentance (turning away from sin and begging for forgiveness), only receiving the grace of God cures that. Sin is our problem, and only a cure for sin will help.

Christianity is...

  • not self improvement,
  • not self-atonement,
  • not guilt manipulation,
  • not striving to be all you can be,
  • not going for the gusto,
  • not knowledge,
  • not will-power,
  • not emotions,
  • not speaking in tongues,
  • not moralism,
  • not cleaning up your act,
  • not doing good, or doin’ bettah,
  • not happy-happy-happy all the time-time-time,
  • not keeping a stiff upper lip,
  • not nerves of steel
  • not a heart of wax with a head of mush.

Christianity is the grace of God in the death of Christ.

We don’t seem to realise that God has changed us. He doesn’t aim at a mere "improvement," even a great improvement. God is not about pleasing us. He probably will leave you buck-toothed, flat-chested, broad-beamed, flat-footed, hook-nosed, or flat-nosed (though he leaves you free to change those things if you desire). His love for us—and his plan for "improving" us—embodies something much deeper: holiness, conforming us to the image of Christ.

The change is not superficial, not plastic surgery, not new pecs and abs, not losing 30 pounds of ugly fat, not even lipo-suction—but a change clean to the bone and heart and will. Everything that was dead to God is made alive in Christ. We become new men.

And not a new man alone, but a new man in community, in fellowship with the saints, a member in the body of Christ, his Church.

God has prepared for us a glory so glorious that if we could grasp it, we would think that we know absolutely nothing about glory at all.