I’ve tried countless different kinds of To-do lists. I’ve experimented with colorful cards, complicated mind-maps, sophisticated software, and innumerable Apps. And none of them ever gets me closer to “Done!” I keep hoping that somehow the right technique, the right method, or the right program will get my Inbox to zero, my desk trays to empty, and my latest To-do list all ticked off.
All in vain. Emails keep arriving, reports keep dropping, To-dos keep multiplying. An insatiable cacophony of “Do, Do, Do,” taunts me as I reluctantly come to the depressing conclusion that I will never be finished, that I’ll never be done.
Then I turn to Christianity and, to my unutterable and indescribable delight, I encounter the rare and refreshing words: “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30).
It is done. All done. Nothing in my spiritual Inbox. Nothing on my desk. No To-dos to be done. It is finished!
That’s the foundation, the starting point, the beginning of all true Christianity. Done! Done! Done!
And yet it’s so difficult to believe, isn’t it? Can it really be totally finished? Nothing left to do? What a difference it would make to our lives if we could really, really believe that. So why is it so difficult to believe the Gospel of “DONE”? There are four main hindrances.
It’s difficult to believe because we all have a loud inner voice that keeps saying, “Do! Do! Do!” We’re born with a prodding, needling conscience, a gnawing innate sense of God’s demands upon us, and in our own way we try to meet those demands and quiet our conscience.
We do what we can, when we can, as we can, and hope we have enough in the can. And yet our can is still rattlingly empty, isn’t it?
We hear “Do!” We do. We hope to hear “Done!” Instead, we hear, “Not done…do more.” The relentless, merciless, grueling, harrowing, voice of God’s law burrows deep in our souls. We yell, “Quiet!” “Give me peace!” “Go away!” Will you never be satisfied?” But the “Do’s” keep coming, adding, multiplying, and expanding.
Is Christ’s conclusive cry loud enough to silence this depressing, demoralizing, and discouraging cacophony?
It’s difficult to believe “It is finished” because of the church.
Most sermons major on, “Do this, do that. Don’t do this, don’t do that.” And if “Duty, duty, duty,” is the preacher’s demanding message, “Disobedience, disobedience, disobedience,” is the hearer’s condemning conviction.
Check the most common preaching topics in most churches: Christian parenting, Christian finances, Christian marriage, Christian vocation, Christian citizen, Christian communication, etc. Do, do do! Sermon upon sermon, each demanding more money, more time, more commitment, more zeal, and more doing. Do, do, do! Fail, fail, fail! Down, down, down we go.
Is Calvary’s decisive cry preached enough to ensure that His “Done” is heard above the preacher’s “Do”?
It’s difficult to believe “It is finished” because it contradicts the most basic rule of life in this world: Work = Reward. From our earliest days to our latest days, this is the law that governs everything. Do = Dollars. You work, you get rewarded. You don’t work, you don’t get paid.
That societal norm can make it so difficult to believe the core idea at the heart of the Gospel: Christ works and I get the reward. I don’t work, but I get paid! That turns our culture upside-down, back to front, and inside out. It’s hard to get our heads around it.
Is Calvary’s counter-cultural cry convincing enough to break this unbreakable rule?
It’s difficult to believe “It is finished” because we keep on failing even after believing it. I mean God might let us into the Christian faith through His divine done, but we’ve got to stay in by our own doing, don’t we? Only fair, isn’t it?
If so, we’re done in, because our own doing is never going to do enough, even after believing in Jesus. We get in by His “Done!” We stay in by His “Done!” We finish by His “Done!” If not, we’re done.
Is Calvary’s successful cry long enough to not only get you into faith but to keep you in faith, keep you believing in Him rather than in yourself, and keep you looking to His Done rather than your doing?