My oldest son loves getting good grades. I did not parent him this direction or pressure him to do homework. Actually, I’m a terrible school parent. I don’t check the agenda. I never ask about homework. Most mornings I tell my kids, “Grades don’t matter in the long run, but being kind toward everyone, especially kids you don’t like, matters a lot.”
Despite my lack of academic parenting he has excelled in school, but recently he received a B in Reading & Writing. On report card day his normal flaunting of grades became a tentative sliding of paper across the counter. The fear of rejection was palpable. I could see tears gathering in his eyes before I even opened the envelope. He thought his B grade was going to change how I saw him. In his 4th grade heart acceptance and worth was tied to academic performance. In our family his acceptance and worth simply is. A’s or F’s he is my son. He is my beloved son and I am his father. Poor grades will never unshackle my love from him. Present, or future, moral failures can not remove my love for him. I have chosen to love him despite his failures and letdowns because Jesus loves me despite mine.
The amazing news of the Bible is that in Christ we are already perfect, actually perfect, before God because we have been united to Jesus. If you believe the good news of Jesus you are a straight A faith student with a perfect attendance record and glowing notes from the headmaster. Your moral failures have been converted from F’s to A’s. Your late projects were turned in on time by way of the cross. Your graduation gown was purchased for you. The pressure to earn God’s love is no longer yours to bear since I Christ bore it for you. You already have a perfect report card filed in heaven and the grades can not be changed. The pressure to earn God’s love is gone because everything you could ever need from God has been gifted to you by faith. This is the gospel and it is very different from religion.
Religion says, “I obey therefore I am accepted.”
The gospel says, “I am accepted therefore I obey.”
Religion says, “I will be loved if I am good enough.”
The gospel says, “I am loved therefore want to be good.”
The gospel alone connects us to Jesus. His life and his power course through those who call upon his name by faith. Religious obedience can not bring about this cosmic union. Faith alone grants us this divine access, and it is this type of faith that produces in us a desire to love God and keep his commandments.
“My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”