I don’t deserve a bike, but here I am riding!

cute little boy on a bicycle

I grew up with Andy Griffith Show reruns playing every day at 12:30 in the afternoon. One show that sticks in my mind is when Opie thinks he’s received an A on a test he took.

His dad gets so excited, and praises him for his good work. Opie’s exuberant–right there on Cloud 9. But the next day he goes to school and finds out there was a mistake made, and he didn’t really earn an A at all. He goes home downcast, having fallen hard off the clouds, only to find his father has bought him a bike as a reward.

The guilt he feels over the next few days drives him to run away from home.

As believers, sometimes I think we come before God like Opie does before his father. We know we haven’t really received an A, but we think God has a better impression of us than we really deserve. This leads us to depression and fear and anxiety that God will find out we’re not really as great as He thinks we are.

In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. God is totally aware that we are flops and failures. He’s not under a misconceived notion about who we really are. He knows exactly what we’ve done. He knows our worst motives. And He knows every reason why we don’t deserve Heaven.

One of the easiest and yet hardest things to understand in the Christian faith is justification. Justification is the idea that Christ’s A is laid down over top our F, and that the Father accepts that A on our behalf. It’s so easy that a grade-school student can understand it. And yet, it’s so difficult to really live out in our lives. Sometimes we find ourselves, like Opie, running away from God in fear that we are not really good enough.

That’s bad theology. 🙂 We forget that God already knows, far more than we do, who we are. And we forget that Christ’s A really does cover our F. When God gives us gifts, we don’t have to be hit with an enormous wave of guilt. Because, in God’s eyes, we have received the A. We are rewarded for Christ’s grade. That’s grace.

Running away from God when He gives us good things does not send the message that we are unworthy (which is what we think we are communicating), but instead sends the message that Christ’s A is unworthy. We don’t mean to say that, but that’s what it looks like. We don’t really live out justification if we think our F stands in the way of God’s love for us.

Opie had good reason to feel guilty for receiving a bike he didn’t really deserve. No one had stepped up for him and said, “Here, Opie, take my A and everything that goes with it.” But we have the most loving Friend in the world who did exactly this for us! We can receive God’s gifts with excitement and joy and, most of all, praise to Jesus, who makes all gifts possible.

That leads us to the point of this little blog. I’ve received Jesus’ A for my F. That’s justification. So even I don’t deserve a bike, here I am riding!  I can unwrap every good thing God has in my life, praising Christ Jesus all the way, because Jesus is my test-taker and He has laid down His life so that I could have His perfect A.

It’s time to take my new bike out for a spin.

Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.
 (Romans 5:18, NLT)