People like to make fun of Christianity, perhaps for its stance on gay marriage, evolution, or religious pluralism. But, these are just the tip of the iceberg. If you really want to see how messed up Christianity is, just consider one of its fundamental beliefs, the doctrine of justification. Then you’ll see how bizarre it really is. If you’re going to make fun of Christianity, you might as well hit it in its gut.
Let me explain.
You’ve found a new job. You get ready for your first day, put on the right clothes, and show up to work. Before you can punch in, your boss hands you a paycheck and says, “Here’s your pay for the year. You don’t have to work for it.”
You’re starting a new class. The teacher hands out the syllabus and explains what will be required of you. Then she says, “By the way, I’ve already given you an A. Congratulations. Your grade does not depend on your work.”
You’re going to try out for the team, but before you walk out on to the field, the coach tells you, “I’ve selected you to be the captain.”
You want to be in the orchestra, but before you can play a single note to audition, the conductor says to you, “I’ve selected you for First Chair.”
You meet someone that you like, but before you can ask her out on a date, as she’s meeting you for the first time, she says to you, “I do!” And you’re married.
You’re a Muslim and you want to earn God’s favor. You know that you have to fulfill the five pillars of Islam. But before you say a single prayer, your leader says to you, “You’ve already made it into Paradise.”
Can you imagine any of these ridiculous situations? They all put “reward” before “work.”
You want to be a Christian, but before you can live obediently to the Bible, Jesus says to you, “I do.”
Before you can perform the commandments, Jesus has given you righteousness and eternal life.
That’s how it was when I became a Christian. Someone introduced me to Jesus one fall night, told me that he loved me and wanted to have a relationship with me for all eternity. That’s intense! Jesus didn’t even know me yet! So I thought. Don’t I have to do good things for him first? Don’t I have to earn his love? Just like every other situation? Nope. Will you marry me?
Do you realize how messed up Christianity is? It messes up how this world operates by introducing a whole new economy. It declares your spiritual bank account “full” before you’ve ever made a deposit.
This is a radical, retroactive religion, which works backwards, rather than forwards. Everything else works forwards: you work and then earn the wages of your work. But Christianity says, “The wages of our work is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). That’s the doctrine of justification.
Are you sick of earning favor? Why not start receiving favor? Christianity stands alone.
(This article was adapted from Sam’s forthcoming book from David C. Cook Publishers, Soul Tattoo: A Life and Spirit Bearing the Marks of God).