Tim Keller, an author (The Reason for God, Counterfeit Gods and Prodigal God) whom I have come to deeply respect (and who also happened to attended Westminster Theological Seminary — although I don’t recall that we knew each other), developed this list comparing the Gospel to Religion.
It’s a good focus for prayerful meditation as we each come before the Throne of Grace and let the Lord change our perspective. Only by letting Him change our perspective — the way we think and believe and react — can we be transformed into the men and women He lovingly calls us to be.
I know how I often lose sight of the true Gospel as I get to focused on myself and the challenges before me. This helped pull me back into the Father’s loving embrace.
|“I obey; therefore, I’m accepted.”||“I’m accepted; therefore, I obey.”|
|Motivation is based on fear and insecurity.||Motivation is based on grateful joy.|
|I obey God in order to get things from God.||I obey God to get God — to delight in and resemble him.|
|When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or myself, since I believe that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life.||When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle, but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while God may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial.|
|When I am criticized, I am furious or devastated, because it is critical that I think of myself as a “good person.” Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs.||When I am criticized, I struggle, but it is not essential for me to think of myself as a “good person.” My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ.|
|My prayer life consists largely of petition, and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is control of the environment.||My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with God.|
|My self-view swings between two poles. If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel humble but not confident — I feel like a failure.||My self-view is not based on my moral achievement. In Christ I am simul iustus et peccator — simultaneously sinful and lost, yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad that he had to die for me, and I am so loved that he was glad to die for me. This leads me to deep humility and confidence at the same time.|
|My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work, or how moral I am — and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral.||My identity and self-worth are centered on the one who died for me. I am saved by sheer grace, so I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace am I what I am.|