Students here at Rockbridge have been practicing how to share the good news (gospel) by taking their peers through “proxe stations” which are simply interactive ways for people to experience both their need for Christ and the hope that He offers.
One student took someone through a station called Extreme Heart Makeover, which basically gives the chance for people to identify areas in their heart that, if given the chance, they would like remade – things like anger, pride, selfishness, etc. As the participant marked several heart areas that they wished were different, my student told them, in a nutshell, that the answer is for them to ask forgiveness, repent, and try harder to not do those things.
On hearing this, my firsts reaction was frustration, because “trying harder to not do bad things” is not really the heart of the good news. The gospel tells us that we are unable to do good, unable to remake our hearts, apart from Christ, and that God has freely given us the forgiveness to begin again and the power to walk in new ways as we trust His life in us. I cringe when people reduce following Jesus to “trying harder” or “doing better.”
But as we prayed for this student and I thought about the anger and the heaviness that I sensed in her, I realized that she must believe that her righteousness is based on her performance and that her fear of moral failure must mute her experience of the power and presence of God’s love for her.
And God brought to mind one of my favorite verses in the Bible, Psalm 199:32 – “I run in the paths of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” My prayer for her, and for myself, became a plea for God to lead us to an obedience that stems from an experience of His love and goodness. Running in His commands because of freedom, not in hope of attaining it.