In Chapter 1 (“An Exhausted World”) of One Way Love, Tullian Tchividjian observes that reward and punishment, this for that reciprocity defines our economy, our relationships, our careers, and our institutions. Everything in our world demands two-way, conditional love. Pastor Tchividjian adds that through conditionality, we gain safety and control- as far as those two things go.
The problem comes, as is inevitably does, when things fall apart. With every promise of reward comes the threat of punishment. The subtle, underlying message is that acceptance is attained through accomplishment and that approval is dependent on achievement. This quest for perfectionism cannot produce gratification or lasting excellence. Such impossible conditions ultimately produce exhaustion, shame, and bitterness.
Pastor Tchividjian states that the Bible is not a record of the blessed good:
“The Bible is a record of the blessed bad. The Bible is not a witness to the best people making it up to God; it’s a witness to God making it down to the worst people. . . . The Bible is one long story of God meeting our rebellion with His rescue, our sin with His salvation, our guilt with His grace, our badness with His goodness. The overwhelming focus of the Bible is not the work of the redeemed but the work of the Redeemer.”
Today’s question: What role did conditionality play in your former ministry or vocation? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Grace, grace, and more grace”