Continuing the interview with Kathi Macias, author of the new book Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World (New Hope, 2008):
On page 52 you wrote: “I got sidetracked trying to prove my love [for Jesus Christ] by doing right things and not doing wrong things. In the process, I strayed away from my first Love…”
I think many people believe religion and Christianity are all about doing right things and not doing wrong things: If you do enough right and avoid doing enough wrong, you’ll get to heaven, right?
I’d say that appeasing God like this is indeed the point of many religions, but Christianity is different. Would you agree? And if so, how would you explain the difference?
KM: I agree completely. Every other religion/faith on the planet is based on some sort of “works” system (do more good works than evil and hopefully you’ll make it into heaven—whatever/wherever that may be). Even the Jewish faith, which was never meant to be that way, did end up with that sort of bent, at least to some extent.
The Christian faith, on the other hand, says, “I can NEVER do enough good works to earn my way into heaven because Jesus is the picture of God’s standard for entrance into heaven, and that standard is perfection. On my own, I haven’t a chance.” It is at that point of acknowledging our own helplessness to earn or deserve entrance into God’s presence that we throw ourselves on God’s mercy and accept His free gift of forgiveness and restoration, provided by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But lest we cheapen that gift, we must never forget that apart from it, God could not and would not forgive or accept us. He is a loving God, yes, but He is also righteous, and His righteousness demands the shedding of righteous blood for the remission of sins. Only Jesus qualifies to make that sacrifice—and aren’t we glad He did?