Stop Using God As a Get Out of Jail Free Card–Literally
I had one of those BS moments the other day, know what I mean? I was recording an episode with my co-host, Louis Dooley, and he said something that really stopped me in my tracks, and it caused me to examine my own Bumper Sticker faith.
At just 19 years old, he was sitting in a jail cell with a life-sentence plus 100 years conviction (it would eventually be increased to three life sentences, plus 100 years–but you’ve got to buy the book to learn the rest of that story!). Another prisoner gave him a gospel booklet that told the story of how Jesus offers us forgiveness of sins and full salvation. Louis had never heard that message before in his life. The offer of forgiveness from God and the gift of a new life were so compelling to him, that he surrendered his life to God right away.
But here’s the kicker. Here’s what really got me. Louis said he was no longer thinking about his earthly circumstances with the state. His life sentence plus 100 years was not on his mind. Instead, he was thinking about how amazing it would be to be forgiven of his sins and given a chance at living a new life in Christ, no matter where he was, even if he were in prison for the rest of his days.
In other words, he said, he wasn’t using God as a Get Out of Jail Free card. He wasn’t bargaining with God, like many of us do: “God, if you get me out of this situation, then I will follow You!” No, at that moment, he would rather have his sins removed by God than his sentence removed by a judge. Powerful, eh?
This is a good way to see whether or not your faith is BS (Bumper Sticker!), just ask yourself, “Would I rather be out of this painful situation I’m in right now, or be given the opportunity for an intimate relationship with God, as He walks with me through this storm?”
Don’t get me twisted, maybe it’s God’s will that your situation be resolved, too. But, that miracle would be the lesser of the two. Jesus himself said the greater miracle is to be forgiven of your sins than to be healed of your afflictions. “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk.’?” (Mark 2:10).
Would you rather walk home with your sins or continue to sit in your cell without them? No matter what you’re going through, even if you’re literally in jail, God wants to forgive you, give you new life, and walk closely with you through this trial. He wants you to know His love and be changed from the inside out by his Spirit.