The gospel doxologically declares that because of Christ’s finished work for you, you already have all of the justification, approval, security, love, worth, meaning and rescue you long for and look for in a thousand different people and places smaller than Jesus.
God does not relate to us based on our feats for Jesus but on Jesus’ feats for us.
Because Jesus came to secure for us what we could never secure for ourselves, life does not have to be a tireless effort to establish ourselves, justify ourselves or validate ourselves.
He came to rescue us from the slavish need to be right, rewarded, regarded and respected. He came to relieve us of the burden we inherently feel to “get it done.”
The gospel announces that it is not on you to ensure that the ultimate verdict on your life is pass and not fail.
You do not have to transform the world to matter; you do not have to get good grades to secure your own worth; and you do not have to be a success to justify your existence.
Because Jesus was strong for you, you are free to be weak. Because Jesus was someone, you are free to be no one. Because Jesus was extraordinary, you are free to be ordinary. Because Jesus succeeded for you, you are free to fail. Because Jesus won for you, you are free to lose.
But hold on…
Does this unconditional declaration generate apathy? An “I don’t care” posture toward life?
If it is true that Jesus paid it all, that it is finished, that my value, worth, security, freedom, justification and so on is forever fixed, than why do anything? Doesn’t grace undercut ambition? Doesn’t the gospel weaken effort?
But the truth is, gospel-grace actually empowers risk-taking effort and neighbor-embracing love.
You see, the thing that prevents us from taking great risks is the fear that if we do not succeed, we will lose out on something we need in order to be happy. So we live life playing our cards close to the chest… relationally, vocationally and spiritually.
We measure our investments carefully because we need a return. We are afraid to give because it might not work out.
But, because we already possess everything we need in Christ, we can take great risks, push harder, go farther, and leave it all on the field without fear. We can invest with reckless abandon because we do not need to ensure a return of success, love, meaning, validation and approval. We can invest freely and forcefully because we have been freely and forcefully invested in.
The fear of not knowing whether I will get a return is replaced by the freedom of knowing we already have everything: because everything I need, in Christ I already possess, I am now free to do everything for you without needing you to do anything for me.
I can now actively spend my life giving instead of taking, going to the back instead of getting to the front, sacrificing myself for others instead of sacrificing others for myself.
The gospel alone liberates you to live a life of scandalous generosity, unrestrained sacrifice, uncommon valor and unbounded courage.
When you do not have anything to lose, you discover something wonderful: you are free to take great risks without fear or reservation.
This is the difference between approaching life from salvation and approaching all of life for salvation; it is the difference between approaching life from our acceptance, and not for our acceptance; from love not for love.
So, what are you going to do now that you do not have to do anything?
Tullian Tchividjian is a South Florida native, Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, a visiting professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, and grandson of Billy and Ruth Graham. He is the founder of LIBERATE (liberatenet.org), a bestselling author, a contributing editor to Leadership Journal, and a popular conference speaker. Tullian and his family reside in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Follow Tullian on twitter at: @pastortullian.