You don’t have to be your best you.
To be saved you don’t have to be smart.
You don’t have to be cute. Handsome. Sexy. Thin.
You don’t have to be respected.
To get peace with God and eternal joy in Him, a decent standard of living is not required. You don’t have to worry about your 401(k).
You don’t have to win the approval of your mother. You don’t have to be respected by your father.
You don’t have to be liked.
Or thought of as cool. Or smart. Or original. Or funny.
You only have to turn from all these and trust in Jesus.
And do you know what else you don’t have to do to be saved? You don’t have to be good.
You don’t have to stop sinning. You don’t have to love your neighbor.
The Bible says that we are saved apart from our works. That He instead has prepared and predestined good works for those who will believe in Him. Instead, here’s how it works:
You are born again in Christ and then you get to be good. You get to stop sinning. You are freed from your badness and selfishness and anxiety and wickedness.
You give up and are re-made.
You stop working and trust in Him.
You believe and are saved.
And finally, you know what else to don’t have to do to be saved?
You don’t have to pay for your sins.
You don’t have to bear the wrath of the good God you rejected.
You don’t have to sweat or bleed for your awful deeds.
You don’t have to be humiliated.
You don’t have to be rejected.
You don’t have to carry a cross.
You don’t have to die in agony for your evils.
You don’t have to do that to be saved.
No, the only One who could already has.
The only one capable of dying a perfect death already did.
You only have to believe in Him.
Peter preaching the Good News of Jesus, in Acts 2:
“‘Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.’
“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.'”
You don’t have to do the work of saving your own soul. And you can’t.
There’s work to be done. And sacrifice to be made. And you will have to count the cost and die to your own, small dreams for yourself. But not in order to be saved.
Those things can only be done in response to being saved.
Real good works are the life lived by one who was rescued. Not the life lived by one who is trying to rescue himself. No, those would be scared good works. Or arrogant good works. Or greedy ones. Or lazy ones.
The one rescued by Christ is called to grateful good deeds. Joyful acts of love and mercy and compassion.
We get to be good once saved. Not try to be good to get saved.
Jesus only rescues sinners.
Yes, there are difficult, challenging things be to done. Terribly hard and painful acts of love and faith and courage. Yes, He calls you to them.
He calls you into the real work and sacrifice that we were truly made for.
But they are the joyful kind.
The kind that begin in life-changing trust.