My daughter was three-years-old (she’s now 21) when she showed me how I had inadvertently given her the idea that Jesus unconditional love for her was based works – her works of being Jesus “Big Girl”.
Let me explain. Every time my daughter did something wrong, I would say, “Amber, that’s not being Jesus “Big Girl!” or that isn’t what “Jesus Big Girl should do.” I didn’t have a balance of praising and telling her how much Jesus loved her! Unbeknownst to me I had represented and presented to her a Jesus who only looked at our shortcomings and never our victories.
One day, in the middle of me telling her she wasn’t being Jesus “Big Girl!” she retorted with haste and anger, “I don’t wanna be Jesus “Big Girl,” anymore I want to be Jesus “Big Boy!”
Her words cut me and stop me dead in my tracks! No she wasn’t having a gender identity crisis moment, (so please spare me the emails and any social media inbox messages) but in her three little short years of being taught about Jesus, she equated Him to only loving her when she did “good” and didn’t love her when she did something “wrong.” So in her 3 yr old mind, it was hard being Jesus “Big Girl” so she decided what about being Jesus ‘Big Boy” maybe that wouldn’t be so hard, because she was definitely tired of being his “Big Girl.”
I was failing as a parent. Clearly, I was sending her the wrong message about Jesus unconditional love and grace, so her retort was understandable. If being Jesus “Big Girl” was going to be that difficult, then she didn’t want to have any parts of it. ”
From that moment on, I changed the way I presented Jesus to her. Never again did I make God’s grace about her behavior. I taught her how Jesus loves her unconditionally, how she take any and all problems to Him, and even when we mess up, we have consequences to our behavior, but it doesn’t mean Jesus no longer loves us.
This is pretty much how the Body of Christ conducts itself. I grew up in the church were grace was never extended. Even as an adult in ministry, people rarely, if ever extend unconditional love and genuine grace. I realized I subconsciously had started treating and training my daughter in the same way and stop immediately!
Borrowing from Gary Kinnaman, Author of Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe; Misbeliefs That Keep Us From Experiencing God’s Grace, he says, “There’s this misbelief that God grades on a curve and having a relationship with Him isn’t based on Jesus, “that’s all and nothing else,” but it’s based on Jesus “plus something else.”
What’s your something else? The church you belong to? Your church attendance? Are you a good person? You don’t drink, smoke, lie, envy, or lust for someone else? Do you pay more than your share of tithes? Do you lead small ministry groups? Do you participate in every church activity? Are your children Christians?
Do you judge other people according to the above mentioned? Do you judge them if they fall short of your “spiritual standards and expectations?”
Kinnaman goes on to say, “The sad truth is many Christians believe, deep down, that how other Christians feel about them is a good indication of how God feels about them, which simply isn’t true.”
I too, like the author, I am glad God doesn’t grade on a curve. Aren’t you?
~Looking up to God’s standards, and no one else’s.
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