If you have an iPhone, like me, you’re probably used to seeing those red notification dots on your screen indicating that the app requires attention. If you’re anything like me, they tend to build up and the numbers inside those pesky red dots continues to grow. Eventually, my screen looks like it has a full-blown case of chicken pox. I hate it. Those dots all represent things that I need to do. Eventually, I have to take intentional time out of my day to go through them all until my screen is clear again. Victory is usually short-lived, though, and the little red bubbles of uncompleted tasks start showing up like they never really left.
The one that I have the hardest time with, though, is the one on my Bible app. I try to keep up with reading plans and devotions. I set reminders in the app so I don’t forget. When the red dot on the Bible is present for more than a couple hours, I feel like I’m neglecting God. It’s almost like that red dot represents God sitting there on my phone screen saying “Hey, remember me? Why don’t you open this app?!” The guilt of letting that dot remain on my screen builds. I get anxious, like I’m failing some way. I could turn off the notifications, but then I imagine I’d feel even guiltier. The longer it remains, the more anxious I get. My stress level builds, like I’m going to somehow lose my salvation if I let the number inside the bubble get any greater than “1”. Sometimes I go into the app just to appease the little red dot. “Whew,” I think to myself, “I can’t be that bad of a Christian- look, my red bubble is gone!”.
I’ve somehow come to equate my closeness to God with a red dot my phone screen. No dot = good Christian. Red dot with number “1” in it = Average Christian who better attend to his Bible app or face God’s impending wrath. Red dot with any number greater than “1” = The apocalypse will surely happen, and it will be my fault.
Today in my reading (no red dot!) I came across a simple verse that spoke amazing truth about the work of Christ on the cross and what it means for us. Peter stands up in Acts 15: 11 and says “We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” Undeserved grace. There it is: a 2-word answer to my feelings of inadequacy when I feel like I’m not doing a good enough job for God. Undeserved– we can’t DO anything to earn it. If I read my Bible 50x a day and memorize 180,000 verses, I’m no more deserving of His grace than anyone else. Grace– a favor, a gift, extended to me out of kindness. Nothing more. No strings attached. If I’m willing to accept it, He’s willing to give it.
I don’t mean this to be an excuse for not going to church, or not reading your Bible, or not praying, or not paying attention to God in any other way. It was a reminder to me, and hopefully to you as well, that no one can DO anything to earn God’s grace and salvation. We simply have to accept it. Understanding that His grace is available to us not because of anything we’ve done, but because of what HE did through Christ, allows us to live without the burden of inadequacy. We won’t be perfect. We will stumble and fall. We’ll have times when we feel directly connected to God. We may have times when we feel completely apart from Him. Regardless of where we are, I am confident that He remains right by our side, continually offering the amazing, undeserved gift of His grace. We just need to accept it.
Jason Reynolds | IC Youth Pastor