I have lost count of how many times I have heard the lectures from the Formational Prayer Seminars in Ashland, OH. It is one of the many benefits of serving as a caregiver. Truthfully, the lectures are so rich that I can listen to them repeatedly for the rest of my life and still learn something new every time. This last time at the seminar was no exception. On the subject of the character of God and how He relates to us, Terry Wardle simply stated that “God is not transactional.” He got my attention. Then as an example he explained how some of us preachers will try to be especially good the week before preaching. Perhaps skipping the extra glass of wine, or maybe being a little pickier about what we choose to watch on TV, or just putting a little more effort into our sanctification progress. The thought behind it is, if I try my best to please God then I am in a better position to receive His anointing and blessing. Thus, my congregation will get a better sermon. Silly? No, I think he nailed a hidden attitude in many of us. The better I am at keeping the rules the more God will bless me. Conversely, when I mess up or (God forbid) even sin knowingly and intentionally, then I can expect to be snubbed instead of blessed.
It’s really not our fault why we have the tendency to think this way. They are mental models/thought patterns that we have acquired over the years. Think about it, it’s the way the world works. We are taught that if I am naughty instead of nice then Santa will not leave me toys. If I am a good girl or boy I will make my parents and teachers happy. If I have perfect Sunday School attendance then I get a pin. When I am a dutiful and good employee I may get a raise or a promotion (sometimes). We are taught to have a transactional mindset in life. When I put money in the machine my Coke comes out. It’s how the world works.
We naturally bring that mindset into our relationship with God. When I am good He blesses me. When I sin there’s a price to pay. But that is not God’s way. Because of Jesus’ full payment for ALL our sins on the cross God’s way of relating to us is now grace. Just grace. I do not get what I deserve. Instead I get His lavish love. God is not transactional with us. What good news! I mean really, is there EVER a time when you do not sin? Would you really want God to be transactional?
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him.” Col 2:6
Funny how we know we are saved by grace yet we have a hard time living by it. Grace is a difficult mindset to live by. Something inside of us wants the control of earning our way. But that is not the way of the Kingdom. The workers who came late and worked only an hour got the same wages as those who worked hard all day. Grace! God does not deal with me according to what I deserve. EVER. That’s incredibly good news.
Yes, there are at times consequences to my sins. Just as touching a hot stove will burn my finger, sin causes pain and injury. But consequences should never be mistaken with how God relates to us. Our sins are forgiven and now nothing separates us from His love. God wants us to develop a new mindset of living totally and completely by grace. Today and always we live in the Ocean of His grace and love. Sorry, no transactions allowed.