What was His motivation? What was His goal? These are important questions to ponder and now, in the wake of Easter, seems an appropriate time. I've talked about how God uses the themes of Creation, Fall and Redemption in our lives to reflect His big story and show us His character as a redeeming God. Was this God's main goal or His only motivation in saving us, to work us into this divine strategy?
Right now our church staff is reading a book on self-care. Sometimes in the book it feels like the author is working really hard to overcome an assumption on the part of the audience that self-care is necessarily selfish. And I guess it makes sense that he does that. I know a lot of people who feel that tension and find it difficult to believe in the value of self-care. Somewhere deep down they believe that paying any attention to their own feelings and needs is selfish. I've been one of those people myself. I still am one of those people sometimes.
I saw a powerful example of this during my time as a counseling student. I was observing one of my professors in a counseling session with a ministry couple who had been through an awful lot of terribly traumatic things. They had experienced so much hurt and upheaval and change. They really needed to take some time and recover before they could be of service to anyone in ministry, much less do so in a way that was healthy for them. And yet, there was a sense that they couldn't stop. They had to continue serving or they would let people down or they were being selfish or God would not be pleased, etc. My professor paused for a moment, looked them in the eyes and said, “God did not save you so that He could use you. God saved you because He loves you.”
If we start thinking that we have to push ourselves to the breaking point or we're letting God down, we've forgotten something very important: that God is all-powerful and we aren't. Acts 17 says, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” God graciously chooses to include us in His plans, but their success is not dependent on us. We can take a day off. It's okay. The world will keep spinning. He's the one making that happen, not us.
I think some of us fear that if we really believe that we'll become lazy and self-indulgent and we won't work as hard to share the gospel and minister to others. Why share the gospel if God doesn't need us to? Because it's the gospel! Because it's good news! And the truth that God saved you out of His unfathomable love and mercy is much better news than the silly notion that God saved you because you were a strategic acquisition for His Kingdom. If we believe that truth, maybe sharing the gospel won't be such hard work after all.
So why did Jesus die for you? Not because His plan depended on you. Not so that He could make use of you. Because He loves you.
Believe that. Rest in that. Let your service flow out of that.