As he was closing his sermon on Sunday, my pastor made this wonderful point:
“If you want to know whether you love religion or whether you love the gospel, check and see how angry you are at God.”
The reason why this is one litmus test of whether we understand the gospel is that religion essentially is a barter system. We bring our good stuff to God in exchange for some of His good stuff. Our righteousness for His stamp of approval. Our good works in exchange for His blessings.
But what happens when God doesn’t hold up His end of the bargain? Well, that’s when we get mad. We feel cheated. We feel wronged.
But that anger during unfavorable circumstances reveals the fact that our spirituality is functioning like a cosmic flea market – one in which we have just been taken advantage of.
Didn’t we do our job?
Didn’t we bring the cash?
Didn’t we pay the price?
And where is God? He’s shorting us on His part of the deal. Ironically, these circumstances can actually force us to confront our deeply held beliefs regarding fairness, work, and faith. And when we find ourselves angry, we can either become bitter, or we can come back to the truth that God doesn’t work like that. He doesn’t repay us as if He owes us. And thank God He doesn’t.
The gospel-centered life ain’t no flea market.