Do you know why salvation is so hard for people to understand? Because it’s based in a completely different culture.
Our culture understands investment and returns. Our culture understands decisions and consequences. It understands labor and wages.
But it doesn’t understand grace and undeserved favor.
In fact, many find these ideas humiliating, because we are so independent; we refuse charity of any kind because we wont accept some thing from someone that we haven’t already earned.
Especially from God!
We have the tendency to read the book of Job through the prism of our culture that says, “Job was righteous, so God restored to him a double portion of all he lost”, forgetting that the previous chapters already flew in the face of our Christian cultural formula that says, “if you are righteous you will experience God’s blessing, but if you are wicked you will incur God’s judgment”.
To be certain, we will see that one day.
One day we will stand before God and give account for how we lived our life. The outcome will be blessing or a curse. Heaven or hell.
But while we’re on this earth, “…He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
God didn’t restore to Job double all that he had lost because he was righteous, or because in the 41st chapter he humbled himself before God; just as he didn’t lose everything he had because he had sinned somehow.
God’s culture isn’t like that!
No, His culture is something we can’t understand with the human mind, because His culture is higher than that. Job was righteous and experienced the worst loss imaginable. He sinned in his sorrow, was rebuked by God, and then received back double of everything he had lost.
It’s like God’s culture is backward!
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
God’s favor isn’t something we deserve because of our good behavior, nor can we earn it by our holy living.
We can keep all the biblical principles and flee evil. We can listen to worship music, read our Bibles and pray everyday, and give our tithes every singe month without fail….
and in the end see a brother or sister, who misses their quiet times every other day and skips paying their tithes every other month, and even sometimes watches a bad movie, experience God’s favor in a way we never have.
How can that be?
God’s heavenly culture is different than ours!
God’s favor can’t be earned or deserved. If we could earn or deserve it God wouldn’t be any different from all the other gods.
He would no longer be merciful. Salvation would no longer be a free gift, but a product we could buy by our good behavior, and heaven would be a hierarchy of those who were better and those who were a little less “good”.
But it’s not like that.
Under grace we are all equal. We are all equally lost, and equally saved only by God’s grace regardless of whether we were “good sinners” or drug addicts, prostitutes, and terrorists. We are all equally lost and found.
And God’s favor isn’t given according to our behavior.
Does that mean, then, that it really doesn’t matter how we live?
Paul answered that best with his question and answer in Romans 6: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”
Of course it matters how we live, because although we can’t earn God’s favor, our future destination is dependent upon our relationship with God.
And we can’t have a growing relationship with God and live in sin!
Light and darkness cannot coexist.
We don’t live by biblical principles to earn God’s grace and favor, but out of love and respect for Him. The motive behind our decision is so important!
Why do I read God’s Word and pray each day? Why do I give our tithes each month? Why do I choose to live differently than my friends?
The answer to these questions is as equally important as my decision to live in a way that pleases God because it reveals whether or not I truly understand God’s heavenly culture.
God looks at the heart, which gives meaning to my actions.
What motives are animating your behavior? They will say a lot about you and your understanding of God.