Jesus Christ is our Hero.
That’s the Gospel, really. We must not be ashamed of it.
Righteousness, holiness, blamelessness, life. All given by Jesus. Our life in union with Him.
We hear this and we leap for joy and we agree. And then we look at the world.
The world does work a certain way. If you would like to get better at free throws, shoot a thousand or two or ten. If you would like to be a better reader, read a lot. If you would like to know a lot about a subject, study it with diligence.
From there it is only a small leap to… if you want to be closer to God, work at it. If you want to have a relationship with God, spend time at it. Utilize means of grace – bible study, prayer, fasting, etc. – to increase your spiritual position, your spiritual relationship, your standing with God.
You even can give this work you do to improve your relationship with God a further spiritual veneer. You can say that you are empowered or enabled by the Holy Spirit, so that even though it is your work and effort, all the glory goes to God. And then you can go back to working to improve your standing.
Here’s the problem: saying that doesn’t make it true.
Know this: Christianity doesn’t work like the world. Your relationship with God is based on Jesus Christ’s faithfulness, not your own. We are united to Jesus Christ, given his righteousness, and stand only by trusting him.
Our entire Christian life is a growing awareness and impact of Jesus Christ as the hero. Not you, not me. If your prayer time or your bible study or your body buffeting helps that awareness… go for it. If you are instead centrally aimed at personal improvement, making yourself acceptable, or some other reason that keeps you at the center… you are missing the mark.
Since this is so unlike the world, we are constantly pressured to slip back into thinking that it is up to us (with some impersonal enabling) to keep our relationship strong with God. Yet our relationship with God is based on our trust in Christ, who he is and what he has done. Not on us.
If you are thankful to Jesus for conversion and think the goal of your life is now to make yourself better… come back and read Romans again. Read John. Read Ephesians. Read Galatians. Soak in the reality, echoed in page after page, that Jesus is the hero. The goal of your life is to believe it. You will improve, because he has given you the Holy Spirit, as you work to trust in the Gospel – the good news that insists you live and breathe only in His righteousness.
Even the last line of Romans echoes this thought: “to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.” (Romans 16:27). See that? Through Jesus… not you.
The Bible does have much good instruction. You will be convicted to read and pray and wonder and worship… flowing from the humble, grateful reality that Jesus is the center, not you. Note that all that behavior is downstream from the settled reality that your relationship with God is solid, secure, and unbreakable through trust in Christ alone.
May God be glorified through Jesus. May we hide in Him. May we, in all our imperfections in this life, trust in His righteousness and rejoice in the fruit that we bear in the Spirit of Christ.
Jesus Christ is our Hero.