God is Not Your Employer

The good news of God’s acceptance is not widely preached. You are much more likely to hear about God’s high standards than his unmerited favor. It’s like Jesus has this list of positive qualities he is looking for in his ideal bride.

She needs to be a good cook, like Martha, and have plenty of good works, like the woman in Proverbs 31. She should have a sense of humor and enjoy long walks on the beach.

It’s ridiculous. Jesus has no list and if he did, none of us would ever make it.

Yet many act as if Jesus was grading them on their performance. They mistake the voice of condemnation for the Lover of their souls: “How much did you pray last week? Five minutes? Oh deary dear. I didn’t think I could be disappointed but you disappoint me.”

This perverse picture of performance-based acceptance has given rise to a strange situation: While many Christians know that Jesus is the friend of sinners, they don’t know that he is the friend of them. They don’t see themselves as God’s friends but his servants. “I’m just a humble doorkeeper in the house of my Lord.” No you are not. Jesus didn’t suffer and die to increase the size of heaven’s household staff. What in the world does God need servants for anyway? The One who spoke the universe into existence is quite capable of doing everything himself.

God is not your divine employer. He is your heavenly Father who loves you. It is imperative that you get this.

You have to see yourself as totally accepted by God and basking in his divine and unmitigated pleasure. This is where the rubber of your faith hits the road of his grace. If you don’t receive his acceptance, you will waste your life running after something he has already given you.

[Excerpted from The Gospel in Ten Words, pp.75-6]

25 Comments on God is Not Your Employer

  1. Terry & Bev // May 20, 2013 at 8:10 pm // Reply

    Hi Paul. Love this post and thank you. Have you noticed how Jesus, at the beginning of his ministry had disciples, then later he called them friends, then when he rose from the dead he told Mary to go tell his ‘brothers’ to wait in Jerusalem for him. Once they received the Holy Spirit, they – the Church became his betrothed, and one day we will be his bride. What a safe place to be!

    Bev Browning

  2. Keep on reminding us Paul…because the mind keeps slipping back into the old default mode of trying to please the Father by doing this or that. On the other hand when I listen to the Spirit’s voice I sense no condemnation or pressure to perform but only firm but gentle correction…I like the term “unmitigated pleasure”…

    • thanx, had a rough weekend guys,needed a little sozo to bring me back to life,I believe it was luther who said,I need to hear about grace everyday,lest i forget, now I dont have to lick my wounds anymore!

  3. thank you for this wonderful reminder… “accepted” is one of my favorite chapters🙂

  4. I agree that knowing his total acceptance is key. At first when I read your comment on God not needing servants, I thought to myself, ‘Yeah this sounds good but the apostle Paul called himself a slave to Jesus.’ But then I thought some more and I now think that it was because Paul knew that he was fully accepted by God that he was able to give up his rights and fully entrust himself to his Maker. He knew his status as a friend was secure so he could be a slave and yet be free.

    • Paul called himself a servant of Christ meaning he served in the name of Christ. My understanding was he was living out Jesus’ words in Mark 9:35. We serve people just as Jesus served people. We serve in Jesus’ name.

      • The Apostle Paul usually called himself a servant at the beginning of his books, mainly to establish his legitimacy in writing. He was claiming authority to be heard. But that wasn’t his primary identification. As has been said about Jesus, he had the mind of a servant, but the heart of a son (see Galatians 1:10 and 4:1-7).

  5. Trevor Lancashire // May 20, 2013 at 11:55 pm // Reply

    Thanks for another wonderful reminder Paul! – He’s coming back for a Bride who is ‘without spot or wrinkle’ (Eph.5:27) – We can only give thanks for what He has ‘done’ and what we could never ‘do’!! – ‘When we see Him we shall be like Him’ (1.John 3:2) – Thank God this is ‘finished’ – It’s a ‘done deal’!!

  6. Good word!

  7. Good article. At the same time we don’t want this thought to make us lazy Christians. The things we do we should do out of unselfish love for him because there are lost that need to know about him, and widows and orphans that need to be looked after and hungry that need to be fed and naked that need clothing and prsioners need freeing and infirm that need healing. The thing is we need to be confidant enough in our identity as His kids, disciples, friends, brothers and lovers to know we are not obligated but we are moved to do things out of our love for him. I know brothers who have become so selfish and lazy towards God and towards others in their walk as they have laid hold of hyer grace rather than Gods grace.

  8. chrisvanrooyen // May 21, 2013 at 6:57 am // Reply

    Well done Paul you have just increased the unemployment rate.
    But what a fantastic redundancy package.

  9. I needed to hear this, after yet another sermon about ‘grace’ and the things we have to do to qualify for that grace (that is, have faith, which of course means works because faith without works is dead, and works don’t count unless we have died to all our sins…). Always if’s, but’s, grace+this-and-that. He wrapped up by talking about how much hope this should give us, and I wondered if I was alone in feeling totally burdened and deflated….

  10. Awesome Post!! Love It!!

  11. AMEN PAUL, WONDERFULLY WRITTEN ABSOLUTLY BRILLIANT. NOW, THE CHURCH SHOULD PREACH ON THIS WISE, THEN THE SAINT WILL LEAVE THE CHURCH NOT FEELING LIKE THEY HAVE BEEN BASHED OVER THE HEAD WITH GOD’S HIGH STANDARD.

    I PRAISE GOD FOR YOU AND OTHERS LIKE YOU MY BROTHER.

  12. I have been given the great opportunity to shepherd some 60 5th and 6th graders at my church. How do I teach them about God’s unmerited grace when the book i teach from and our body believes that you must continue to ask to be forgiven, not that you lose your salvation, but God doesn’t hear your prayers when you have sin in your heart, even sin that you aren’t aware of, everyone seems to like the way they grew up believing even though it’s bipolar christianity. Also, i do confess to my Jesus where i have blown it and sinned again, but I also confess that I am only righteous by His blood and i am constantly repenting- turning back toward God and His mercy because i get side tracked with life and forget the power of what He has done for me.

    • That’s a tricky one Julie, since I guess you’re not the person setting the curriculum. I would watch Dead Poets Society then do what Robin Williams does with a certain poetry text. If that’s too much, I would preach on the Father heart of God. Tell them the story of the Prodigal Son over and over until they get how much God loves them and doesn’t care about our little speeches and promises.

  13. Bought and read the book Gospel in Ten Words in one day last week. Awesome message…life changing.

  14. Great post, thank-you.
    Can you explain 2 Cor 5:9 where it speaks of laboring to be accepted of him. Thanks again.

    • I don’t believe Paul is preaching conditional acceptance for if he were, he would be contradicting himself when he says we are accepted in the Beloved (Eph 1:6). In Christ, we are already accepted (see Rom 15:7). I talk about God’s acceptance more in this post and this one.

      Paul here is simply saying, “We make it our goal to please him.” Is this not how we love another, that we desire to please them? Paul is not saying, “We are not pleasing to God but by doing stuff we can become pleasing to God.” Think about your own children. Are they not pleasing to you regardless of their behavior? The day they were born were they not the most pleasing and acceptable sight you ever saw? My kids are inherently pleasing to me yet out of love they may seek to do that which pleases me.

  15. Thanks Paul for the explanation of 2Cor 5:9. What you said concurs with a study on this same verse by John McArthur on “Grace to You”. I just like to get your take on it as you have a gift of making things simple and clear which makes it easier for me to “borrow” and share with others.

  16. Michael Jenkins // November 23, 2013 at 6:33 am // Reply

    I do agree that as beloved Christians we are accepted by God. However can you explain explain John 12:26? I know that we are not serving in forms of labor but we serve because we HAVE been accepted, not to be. I still want clarification on that scripture though.

    Continue to spread the good news!

  17. lately, i also have been meditating on what it means to serve the Lord – with the understanding that God is our Father and not our employer… so far, i am being led to understand that serving the Lord is worshipping Him… thanking and praising Him… believing and receiving all that He has given to us and made us to be in Christ… essentially this is living by faith. we serve Him by living our life led by His Spirit. when we surrender ourselves in total trust in Him, we serve Him as Lord by allowing Him to do His great works in and through us. we serve him when we take from Him the things He wants to give…reaching out by faith to receive His blessings that He so desires for us to take hold of…

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