‘Go on get it, you deserve it!’
I feel uncomfortable around this phrase used to justify a splurge on anything from a piece of clothing to a vacation or some other thing. The deserve word is so subjective when we use it this way. Do I deserve an expensive dress more than a starving family needs food? Of course not.
I recognize this, ‘I deserve it’, way of thinking in my own life sometimes, particularly when things get hard. The thought and half prayer comes along, ‘Surely, we deserve a break? Do we always have to struggle? Haven’t we done that long enough. Look at so and so, Lord, they’ve had it easy, they get to go on a nice holiday every year, isn’t it our turn?'(!!)
There’s nothing wrong with praying for help, but coming to God with a bunch of, let’s call it what it is, pride, saying in essence, ‘Here Lord, look at how I’ve struggled, isn’t it time I got a little reward?’ is not the approach. God is not a slot machine. With God we don’t earn or bargain the breaks. Every day I get what I haven’t earned. His grace.
Good Friday is all about getting what we don’t deserve, because what we do deserve is nothing but punishment and death. That’s hard for our western sensibilities to take. It offends us. We think we’re all basically good, but God says that we’re rotten to the core, we all fall short (Romans 3:23). We’ve chosen to go our own way, to live our lives with disregard for him – and that is sin. It all comes from that desire to be independent and do things our way.
We can’t fix it. If we take a look at the news on any given day we see we haven’t found a solution by ourselves for the evil that is in our hearts. There is still war after war, abuse of power and position, sexual and physical abuse, jealousy, murder, slavery, rape, greed, selfishness and the list goes on. ‘Good’ people do bad things. We try and teach our children to be kind which is great, but there’s a root problem to be dealt with. People say, ‘Why doesn’t God do something about this?’ He has.
What we deserve is what Jesus got on the cross. The perfect son of God took our sin on himself and became the sacrifice for all of us. In those few hours on the cross Jesus experienced the righteous wrath of God, so we don’t have to. Once and for all, his blood pays for it (Hebrews 10:10). For all! Not for those who look the part, or dress a certain way, or go to a particular church, but for all of us messed up human beings who are lost, broken, confused, addicted, sad, successful, rich, poor, good, bad, everyone.
All we have to do is accept it – this amazing gift of forgiveness, grace and mercy.
It doesn’t end there. Jesus did’t stay dead, he rose again, conquering death, leaving us with the promise that we will be with him forever where there will be no more pain, sickness and grief, where every tear will be wiped away and we will live in his perfect glory (Revelation 21:4). This is our hope. He’s not waiting there leaving us to it in the meantime, he sends his Spirit to help us.
This truth, this good news, this gospel has changed my life. I know God’s love and I learn a little more each day the magnitude of that. The fact that I can have a relationship with Jesus blows my mind. It’s changed my perspective on what I deserve. Now I know I deserve nothing, but have been given everything, I can see that all I have is a gift. It makes me thankful. I don’t need to be bitter about what I don’t have or don’t get, I can be content. It helps me to let go of my agenda and my plans and let God lead me where he wants.
Wonderful grace, that gives what I don’t deserve
Pays me what Christ has earned
Then lets me go free.
Wonderful grace that gives me the time to change
Washes away the stains that once covered me.
And all that I have I lay at the feet
Of the wonderful Saviour Who loves me
Wonderful love, that held in the face of death
Breathed in its final breath forgiveness for me.
Wonderful love, whose power can break every chain
Giving us life again setting us free.
- John Pantry, © 1986 HarperCollins Religious (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)