“... to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages now and forever more! Amen.” (Jude 25)
Besides, we cannot accede to heaven on our own ticket or by our personal performance. It is rather by believing in the Sent-One, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who came from heaven to earth to show us the way to the Father. He declared: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
God has done all that needs to be done for humanity and there is nothing that we can add to it. On the cross Jesus proclaimed; “It is finished!” -- meaning that what He had come to do had been accomplished. The plan of God to restore humanity to its position before the fall – its rightful place -- has been fulfilled through Jesus’ mission on earth.
God has done all that needs to be done for our salvation by offering His “only begotten Son,” -- the Lamb of God -- to pay the price of the sins of the whole world, through His shed-blood. For “...without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22b) God deemed it appropriate, when no one else born of Adam could fit the prescription, to offer His Son as a living sacrifice to atone for our sins.
When therefore, in the light of the above, we desire to contribute our little quota, we commit the error that a young rich ruler made when he approached our Lord Jesus and asked Him this question: “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17b) Jesus then quizzed him on his performance with regard to keeping the Ten Commandments, he bragged “... all these I have kept since I was a boy.” (verse 20)
Our Lord Jesus, having perceived that there was some shortcoming in his performance bid, demanded him to go and sell all his belongings, give the proceeds to the poor and then come and follow Him. At this, “... his face fell. He walked away because he had great wealth. (verse 22) The rich young ruler could not deny his intentions by fulfilling such a tall order, which shows how attached he was to his wealth. Such a gesture would have literally eclipsed him from the lofty and grandiose honour he would have received.
Whenever we want to do something for and in the kingdom, we must ensure our motives are not driven by the desire to satisfy our egos, and thus propagate ‘performance-based’ religion. Very often we, knowingly or unknowingly, want to be in the limelight or have the attention of others turned to us instead of having it focused on the Word of God and on His precepts.
The same happened to Martha, the elder sister of Mary of Bethany -- both sisters of Lazarus whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They had invited Him (accompanied by His disciples) to their home for a meal. Whilst the elder sister was busy in the kitchen preparing food for the guests, the younger sister was seating at Jesus’ feet listening to His teachings and probably asking pertinent questions. Martha complained to our Lord Jesus: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me! Jesus’ response to Martha’s comment must have been intriguing. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)
Where Martha was concerned with what she could do, her younger sister in the presence of our Lord Jesus decided to learn to use such valuable time to listen to the Word of God, Jesus (in person). Whilst Martha’s complaint centred on things that did not really matter, things of secondary importance, Mary on the other hand seized that singular opportunity to build herself up spiritually.
Religion, as we have come to know it, is defined by a set of man-made rules and regulations that people should observe. That puts the emphasis on what we can do for God, when what God is looking for is for instruments through which He could accomplish His will on earth. It is not the number of our ‘good deeds’ that will qualify us for a place in heaven. That is determined by whether we accept by faith the finished work of Christ on the cross for ALL of humankind.
When our humanitarian gestures are motivated by compassion and the love of our fellow men and women, it is a different matter all together. When we do this we are expressing in concrete terms the love for our neighbour as our Lord Jesus instructed.
How guilty are we of promoting self under the guise of doing the will of the Father? What have we been doing to satisfy our ego or for the eye-seeing of other people? Faith should move us to action not action to prove our faith, because there is nothing we can add to our salvation.
God is already pleased with the ultimate price His Son Jesus paid on the cross for us all. Receive it as is! “The multitude of your sacrifice what is it to me?” (Isaiah 1:11)