For several years now I have been leading a program called “Reading Classics Together.” The program exists so that we can read classic Christian books in community because, well, just about everything is better in community. Today we begin reading Jerry Bridges’ The Discipline of Grace. What I try to do in these weekly wrap-up posts is share just a couple of the important points that are at the heart of the chapter. If you’d like to read along with the few hundred of us who are going through this book, please do. Simply get a copy of the book and read the first two chapters for next Thursday. For the time being, here is a reflection on the first chapter.
Bridges concern in this book is that so many Christians acknowledge that we are saved by grace through faith—which is to say, that we gain favor with God and are saved because of his grace—but they then begin to believe that what sustains God’s favor is our performance. The more we do what God demands, the more we do what is good, the more of his favor we experience. And so Bridges begins with a simple question: How good is good enough? He poses a scenario we can all identify with.
“You get up promptly when your alarm goes off and have a refreshing and profitable quiet time as you read your Bible and pray. Your plans for the day generally fall into place, and you somehow sense that presence of God with you. To top it off, you unexpectedly have an opportunity to share the gospel with someone who is truly searching. As you talk with the person, you silently pray for the Holy Spirit to help you and to also work in your friend’s heart.” We’ve all had days like that. But we’ve also all had days like this: “You don’t arise at the first ring of your alarm. Instead, you shut it off and go back to sleep. When you awaken, it’s too late to have a quiet time. You hurriedly gulp down some breakfast and rush off to the day’s activities. You feel guilty about oversleeping and missing your quiet time, and things just generally go wrong all day. You become more and more irritable as the day wears on, and you certainly don’t sense God’s presence in your life. That evening, however, you unexpectedly have an opportunity to share the gospel with someone who is really interested in receiving Christ as Savior.”
Bridges then asks if you would enter into those two witnessing opportunities with a different degree of confidence. Think about it for a moment. If you’re like most Christians, I suspect you would feel less confident about witnessing on a bad day then on a good day. You would feel less confidence that God would speak in and through you and that you would be able to share your faith forcefully and with conviction.