(The Flourish summer series is a blog crawl through Christine Hoover’s book “From Good to Grace: Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel.” For the next three weeks we will share our personal take aways and highlights in our blogs. We hope you have a copy but even if you don’t you can drink in the truths that have deeply touched us.)
Christine Hoover titles her first section, “Good, Bye.” In those two brief words the basis of the entire book is formed—“God is calling you to something greater than good.” He is calling us to GRACE. Not to being GOOD.
Chapter three reminds us that even if we grab grace for salvation we are prone to slip back into good works. This idea snatched right out of Galatians: “Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3).
Let me remind you of the premise of this book:
The book illustrates how we confuse being good and trying hard–the goodness gospel–with the true gospel, which is really about receiving the grace and love that Jesus offers us and responding with our lives by the Holy Spirit’s help. It’s my prayer that through it you discover it’s possible to know God’s love, live in peace and freedom, and serve others with great joy. Because God has something so much greater for you than trying to be good enough
Christine makes a powerful confession, even though the understanding of the gospel for her salvation had been so clear, the goodness gospel “silently and covertly wormed its way in again …” By her own admission she unconsciously returned to her “fremeny” the “goodness gospel.”
Which was EXACTLY Paul’s confrontation to the Galatians, they were “beginning in the Spirit (grace)” and then “returning to the flesh (effort).”
The first thing we must know about returning to the goodness gospel is that it is often cyclical and a type of bondage.
We need to discern if we are living in grace or our goodness. Ask yourself: Do I fixate on myself too much, do my feelings of weakness make me work harder or do you criticize yourself and others constantly? Do I have a constant need for praise or recognition? Do I lack freedom or joy? Do I lack understanding of His love? These are signs of bondage.
Do you recognize your goodness addiction and how it shows itself in your life?
Here are some signs that you are bound to the goodness gospel addiction:
- The Goodness Gospel Produces Pride – When we are doing well and checking things off the good list our pride and self-focus swells.
- The Goodness Gospel Produces Self-Condemnation – “Being a false gospel based on human effort, its only natural it would offer opportunity both for boasting and for feelings of failure and worthlessness.”
- The Goodness Gospel Produces Fear – Ironically we may ultimately fear grace, for ourselves and certainly for giving others grace. We are unable to give grace because we don’t live in grace ourselves.
- The Goodness Gospel is Driven By Need of Approval – We find ourselves hungry for the praise of men. Looking and acting Christ-like is more important than BEING Christ-like. We imitate leading Christians more than we follow Christ.
- The Goodness Gospel Bears Bitter Fruit – If we believe that being a good Christian should produce specific actions divisions will surface. When we are quick to judge or put believers in categories of our making we are not living by grace.
How do we keep from straying from Grace?
We must continue as we started: “As you therefore have received (not earned) Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” (Colossians 2:6).
This chapter closes with a powerful image Christine creates for us of Jesus taking Martha’s (another woman who got tangled up in the goodness gospel) face tenderly in His hands. He reminds her to follow Him and receive not to strive for goodness or accomplishment.
I’ve been on this treadmill.
All the signs Christine discussed in this chapter have been manifested in my life in seasons. It hasn’t been pretty. Yet the Spirit can right our hearts when the flesh wants to get us back in bondage to earning something.
How about you? Is it time to say “Bye” to “Good”?
In Friday’s post, we will dive into section two in From Good To Grace.
Published July 13, 2015