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Message

Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World
Tullian Tchavidjian - July 21, 2013

Message Recap

Today, Tullian Tchavidjian spoke about a topic to which everyone can relate: exhaustion.   There is no station or season of the human life that is not marked by exhaustion at some level.  Whether you are old or young, healthy or sick, poor or rich, married or single, you can relate to feeling tired.

The life we live in this world is long on law and short on grace. The demands never stop: a successful career, a stable marriage, financial well-being, well-adjusted adjusted children, etc.   We feel so much cultural pressure to work harder and smarter that anyone living with the uncertainty of daily life knows that the weight of life is heavy and we need major relief.

What is the cause of our exhaustion?

Robert Capon writes that our “greatest temptation is to think that it is by further, better, and more aggressive living that we can have life.”

We are trying to save ourselves!  Every one of us is addicted to “performance-ism,” the mindset that equates our identity and value directly with our performance as a spouse, a parent, a worker, son/daughter, etc.  Performance-ism sees achievement and accomplishment not as something we do, but something we are.  The money we earn, the job titles we attain, the colleges we attend, the cars we drive, the behavior of our children, the appearance of our bodies, and the relationships we portray all reflect back onto us.  They say something to the world about who we are at the core. With performance-ism, success equals life and salvation, while failure equals death and damnation.

Tullian shared that when he was a child, he grew up playing tennis at a competitive level.  Everyone lavished him with praise and compliments as he grew and improved.  Yet he had a very difficult time accepting defeat on any level, breaking out in fits of rage by any loss.  The praise he received over and over for his talent and skill became more than just encouragement; Tullian had begun to find his identity and value in his tennis performance.  If he didn’t win and if he wasn’t the best, then he was nobody.

Finding our identity in what we do or what we have is called “justification by works,” where our works are the summation of who we are.  Therefore if we fail or we don’t accomplish enough, we feel we will be judged unworthy and cease to exist.

Finding our identity in what we do or what we have is called “justification by works,” where our works are the summation of who we are.  Therefore if we fail or we don’t accomplish enough, we feel we will be judged unworthy and cease to exist.

Such identity association issues can occur in any area of our lives, including our relationships and our parenting.  For example, Tullian shared a struggle that he and his wife experienced recently in wanting their son to make good choices and “turn out okay.”  The daily stress, anxiety, and conflicts that arose over this desire revealed to them that their son had become an idol to them.

When we think of idols, we tend to think of native people in far off lands who bow down to wooden statues, but in a Biblical context, idolatry is anything other than God on which we rely to give our lives security, value, and meaning.  It could be a person, the pursuit of a dream, a career, or anything we depend on to make us feel like we matter.  In that way, we can turn the good gifts of God, even our children or spouses, into idols.

If you think about it, any relational tension with a spouse is the result of depending on a spouse for that which only Jesus can provide.  We desperately try to take from someone else what we think we need in order to be happy.  We seek to have more, accomplish more, and be more in order to save ourselves, but the Bible is clear that we are not saved by our own works.

So if the cause of our exhaustion is the drive to save ourselves, then what’s the cure?

Jesus tells us in Luke 4:18-21, reading from the book of Isaiah in the synagogue:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Jesus came missionally to set us free from the slavery of needing to rescue ourselves, the demand to measure up, and the desire to satisfy others with our achievements.  He came to liberate us from needing to be right, regarded, rewarded, and respected.

Christian growth doesn’t mean that we need Jesus less as we become stronger.  Rather, as we mature in Christ, we become increasingly aware of how weak and wrong we are and how much more we need Him.  The less we think about us and the more we think about Jesus, that is when we grow.

Tullian related a story which we’ve all undoubtedly experienced.  He was late for an appointment, frantically tearing the house apart looking for his keys.  He became increasingly agitated and angry at his wife and children, certain that one of them had misplaced them or taken his keys.  Then suddenly, reaching into his pocket, he found that he had them all along.

Because of Christ’s finished work, His followers already have all of the love, significance, justification, approval, acceptance, security, freedom, validation, righteousness that we desperately long for.

We can spend our whole lives frantically searching for meaning and value when, in fact, we already possess them because of the work of Jesus.   Our value and identity have nothing to do with our skills, education, background, titles, looks, or accomplishments.  Because of Christ’s finished work, His followers already have all of the love, significance, justification, approval, acceptance, security, freedom, validation, righteousness that we desperately long for.

When that begins to grip your heart, you can spend your life giving instead of taking. You can give everything without needing anything because you already possess everything you need in Christ. The key is already in your pocket.

Today you can start living under the banner that reads, “It is finished!”  (John 19:30)

This Message

In this message, Pastor Tullian talks about how we exhaust ourselves trying to establish and maintain our identities in life. However, the Gospel not only saves us from our past and future, but also the present and what we think of ourselves.

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