Daily Reform, Day 113
Galatians 2:16 & Revelation 21:9-11
From the Reformer
Now, if I could perform any work acceptable to God and deserving of grace, and once having obtained grace my good works would continue to earn for me the right and reward of eternal life, why should I stand in need of the grace of God and the suffering and death of Christ? Christ would be of no benefit to me. Christ’s mercy would be of no use to me.
This shows how little insight the pope and the whole of his religious coterie have into spiritual matters, and how little they concern themselves with the spiritual health of their forlorn flocks. They cannot believe that the flesh is unable to think, speak, or do anything except against God. If they could see evil rooted in the nature of man, they would never entertain such silly dreams about man’s merit or worthiness.
—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians
Pulling It Together
Written half a millennium ago, about a particular pope and his amassing of wealth at the expense of poor, clueless peasants, this writing still calls us all into check. How are we saved? How does one go to heaven? Indeed, why would one even want to go to heaven? These are questions for moderns too.
Would you want to be with someone for eternity who only loved you because of your good deeds? Or would you want to be with someone who loved you warts and all? No wonder the relationship of God and people is described with the analogy of marriage. (Rev 19:7 et al) Nowhere is the idea of being loved despite failings more evident than in wedlock. One can imagine wanting to spend her life with a groom who loves her more deeply even as time has its effects on her so-called fading beauty. As she ages, she can no longer cook and clean (if she ever did) so well as she once did. Yet her husband loves her all the more. That is true love, as the saying goes.
Just so, Christ loves us whether or not we cook or clean or look nice. That great love sent Christ to the cross to pay our way into heaven, the eternal state of relationship with God. To say that any merit of our own pays for that love is to cheapen Christ’s love, indeed, it is to deny his love even being necessary. Any cooking or cleaning we offer is in response to his love; it does not purchase it or its continuance. The Catholic or Protestant who understands this, knows true love. They know God loves them warts and all.
© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers