Any version of Christianity that makes the focus of the Christian faith the life of the Christian is what Martin Luther called a “theology of glory”—not God’s glory, but ours.
A theology of glory is all about us and what we do. It’s about me and my performance, my obedience, my faithfulness, my potential, my strength, my improvement, and so on. Its main message is our need to do more, try harder, get better, and climb higher.
A theology of glory has no room for Christian failure and weakness. It views Christianity primarily in terms of us being the main characters that morally ascend to God rather than God being the main character who lovingly descends to us. It may give lip service to Jesus hanging on a cross for us, but its emphasis is you and me climbing a ladder for Jesus.
The Sanctuary embraces a “theology of the cross” rather than a “theology of glory.” We readily acknowledge that we are weak and weary, bad, and broken. We admit that while our love for Jesus will continue to fall short, Jesus' love for us will never fall short.
We are deeply grateful that because of what Jesus has accomplished for us, there is nothing we can do—or fail to do—that will ever tempt God to leave us or forsake us. Because of Jesus, God’s love for us, approval of us, and commitment to us does not ride on our resolve for Jesus but rather on Jesus’ resolve for us. It is, after all, His faithfulness that is great, not ours.
Jesus’ words from the cross, “It is finished!” (John 19:30) mean we are set free from the impossible burden of having to work our way into God’s love and acceptance. This liberates us to admit our faults and failures, our sins and struggles, without fear of rejection. The good news of Christianity rings true when we finally disclose that we are weak and we need help, that we fail, that we’re not as put-together as we want people to think we are. That’s when the rushing wind of God’s amazing grace blows through and reminds us…
- Because Jesus was strong for us, we’re free to be weak
- Because Jesus was extraordinary, we’re free to be ordinary
- Because Jesus succeeded for us, we’re free to fail
- Because Jesus won for us, we’re free to lose