A few years ago, Gatorade released a series of commercials where customers would come up to the counter to make a purchase and were told that, because it is a sports drink, they could not buy Gatorade unless they were currently sweating. The customers would protest and ask for the manager…who turned out to be future hall of fame quarterback Payton Manning. Payton would then come out and tell them that they couldn’t buy it unless they were sweating and so he would make them run a passing route or do jumping jacks in the store before they could make the purchase. The commercial would end with the tag line “You don’t sweat it, you don’t get it.”
If you’re anything like me, one word has dominated your life up until this moment: performance. Our culture runs on it, values it and stresses it relentlessly. Think about how much of your life up until this point revolves around this word and how much of your identity is wrapped up in it. But, this endless focus on performance has its downsides. It has left us on a treadmill that only demands more and more from us, and leaves us exhausted because we aren’t sweating enough. We also import this into our view of God and Christianity. Many of us have grown up hearing that God is only interested in our performance and that we need to prove ourselves before He will truly love us and save us. But this view is antithetical to the gospel message of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
Every other world religion tells you that you need to bring a righteousness, that you’ve spent your whole life earning, TO God. But, Christianity is good news because it tells you that because of Christ, God GIVES you a new righteousness that must be received by faith because you realize that your spiritual report card is covered in F’s and that you could not possibly earn your way into God’s favor by your own efforts and performance. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that we are saved by grace through faith, not by our works or what we do, because salvation is a free gift of God.
Contrary to the “you don’t sweat it, you don’t get it” view of salvation, the gospel message of grace tells us to get off the treadmill of works because it is impossible for us to earn salvation. Those Gatorade commercials were hilarious…until I saw myself in them. I was the frustrated guy at the counter doing jumping jacks in front of God trying to prove myself worthy, and I was exhausted. What has you doing jumping jacks throughout the day trying to gain acceptance instead of resting in Christ alone for salvation, worth, and value? Would you like to be freed from the treadmill of spiritual performance? Give up your self-salvation project and rest in Christ alone for salvation. You are never so good that you don’t stand in need of God’s grace, and you are never so bad that you are outside the reach of God’s grace.
– Rev. Dave Latham is the pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church.