You’re Not Okay…And That’s Okay

boom_jinx_the_dark_zpsfe01149a.jpg~originalThe gospel liberates us to be okay with not being okay. We know we’re not okay—though we try very hard to convince ourselves and other people that we’re basically fine. But the gospel tells us, “Relax, it is finished. The pressure’s off.”

Because of the gospel, we have nothing to prove or protect. We can stop pretending. We can take off our masks and be real. The gospel frees us from trying to impress people, appease people, measure up for people, or prove ourselves to people. The gospel frees us from the burden of trying to control what other people think about us. It frees us from the miserable, unquenchable pursuit to make something of ourselves by using others.

The gospel frees us from what one writer calls “the law of capability”—the law, he says, “that judges us wanting if we are not capable, if we cannot handle it all, if we are not competent to balance our diverse commitments without a slip.” The gospel grants us the strength to admit we’re weak and needy and restless—knowing that Christ’s finished work has proven to be all the strength and fulfillment and peace we could ever want, and more. Since Jesus is our strength, our weaknesses don’t threaten our sense of worth and value. Now we’re free to admit our wrongs and weaknesses without feeling as if our flesh is being ripped off our bones.

The gospel frees us from the urge to self-gain, to push ourselves forward for our own purposes and agenda and self-esteem. When you understand that your significance, security, and identity are all anchored in Christ, you don’t have to win—you’re free to lose. And nothing in this broken world can beat a person who isn’t afraid to lose! You’ll be free to say crazy, risky, counterintuitive stuff like, “To live is Christ and to die is gain”!

Real, pure, unadulterated freedom happens when the resources of the gospel smash any sense of need to secure for myself anything beyond what Christ has already secured for me.

  • Monica T Smith says:

    I am truly grateful for what Christ has done and that “It is finished.” The idea of no more striving, proving and measuring up is a great relief. The challenge is that we still live in this world where we still have to measure up to some criteria or someone’s expectation even to do what God has called us to do. How do we remain in His unforced rhythms of grace/rest, faithful to His plans and purposes and live in this world?

  • Paula says:

    I have trouble when you say stuff like this. I’m all on board with Jesus plus nothing equals everything. But it is not OK that we are not OK, that’s why Jesus had to die. It’s sloppy to say otherwise. It’s not ok that we are not OK but it is taken care of, it is finished, it is forgiven. If it is “ok” then there is nothing to be forgiven.

    • Dave says:

      Malachi 3:6 tells us that God never changes. He doesn’t change his mind, his plans, his purposes, or most of all, his character. He loves us with an eternal love. So when God provides us with commandments, principles, and illustrations, we can rest assured that these stand as timeless aids for our sanctification. The world can’t accept this, because the world favors the new – new fashions, new ideas, new freedoms, new theologies. God takes a different view. We read in Ecclesiastes that there’s nothing new under the sun. From Adam to us, mankind remains the same. We put men on the moon and iPod buds in our ears, but our nature remains the same as Cain and Abel’s.That’s not to say that employing these tools, graciously given us by our Creator, is always straight-forward in a given circumstance. Some mystery always surrounds God’s supernatural guidance. We cannot understand Scripture properly nor glorify God without the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. He illumines the Scriptures and opens our hearts to the things of God. We cannot hope to discern God’s will on our own, but must be dependent upon the Holy Spirit. Remember that sanctification involves a cooperative effort between ourselves and the Spirit. Without the Spirit, we can do nothing to please our heavenly Father.

    • That’s not really how I took Pastor Tullian’s post. The reason it’s OK that we’re not OK is that Jesus has already fixed our brokenness, and frees us from having to try to hide it and put on a show of competency. Yes, ultimately our sins and sufferings are not good things, but Jesus has already saved us from them, so we don’t have to desperately try to fix our brokenness but merely to trust in Christ, who has already made everything OK (justification) and is also still making us like Him (sanctification).

  • Frank says:

    Good questions, Monica. That’s the kind of stuff I think about myself. I believe what Tullian is saying. One Way Love is a good read as he expands this in greater detail. Tullian, can you comment here ?

  • […] You’re Not Okay…And That’s Okay – The gospel liberates us to be okay with not being okay. We know we’re not okay—though we try very hard to convince ourselves and other people that we’re basically fine. But the gospel tells us, “Relax, it is finished. The pressure’s off.” […]

  • John Waller says:

    This website always seems to me to be a bit light on “therefores”

    When the apostle Paul gives us the Gospel of God’s free grace he usually includes a “therefore” (Rom 12:1; Eph 4:1; Phil 4:1; Col 2:6 et seq).
    The “therefore” is an exhortation to holy living that is made precisely because of the transforming grace of God in our lives. It is not a recourse to law but is rather a part of the Gospel itself since only a blood-bought, Spirit-filled, grace-saved new creation can ever fulfill the “therefore.” .

    So any chance of a few more “therefores”?

    • Jeff Block says:

      We have no problem remembering the “therefores.” (Every church in America is strong on those.)
      It’s the “Because…” we forget…all the time.
      “Because” First. “Therefore” Second.
      Thus, Liberate was launched.

    • Theodore A. Jones says:

      Therefore: “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” ROM. 2:13 The law he is referencing is the small narrow gate. Whosoever has the faith to obey it will be born again of God. There are no exceptions.

      • Pastor FedEx says:

        Theodore, In chapter 2 of Romans, Paul is still building his case for the necessity of the Good News. When he comes to the end of chapter 3, it is clear that Paul does not believe that any of us can be made right through the works of the law, because we all fall short. What you say is true, if you want to live by the law, the all you have to do is obey the law perfectly, and then you will be declared righteous, but you never will nor can you. That is why Paul spends the entire rest of the Book of Romans telling us the Good News that God has done it for us because we could not.

        Pastor FedEx

  • Steve Martin says:

    St. Paul uses some “therefores”…but Jesus uses a “you must be…”.

    So then…what exactly is the problem?

    Why won’t we..after the” therefore…”…or the “you must be”?

    Why do we will to NOT be…and to not complete the “therefore”?

  • Julie Libby says:

    We are “not ok” ! That’s why :) We try and try, but fall short. And we will till the day we die. Thank you Lord for your Providence.

  • […] post, You’re Not OK & That’s OK by Tullian Tchividjian. In typical Tullian fashion, he preaches undiluted grace in this post. I […]

  • Kathy M. says:

    I think, Monica, one of the ways I balance resting in Gods grace and functioning in the conditional world is a daily awareness of the difference in those two relationship realms. Pastor Tullian, so beautifully explains it as the vertical relationship with God versus the horizontal relationships we have with others. Because of grace and our secure relationship with God, we are free to give all to others without expectations. Beautiful freedom in Christ!

  • I would love to be able to practice what Tullian says in this article consistently, which oddly enough is his point. We are inconsistent in our walk of faith, and that’s ok. Jesus is our consistency. He did and does for me what I cannot do for myself. I have the responsibility to strive to walk in a manner worthy of His name, but when I fall short of that, I’m still His.

  • Paula says:

    Yes, I realize Jesus has fixed our brokenness. But that doesn’t mean our brokenness is OK. I don’t understand why that is so hard to understand. Jesus died a cruel death to illustrate just how not OK it is and how serious he is about fixing it. If it was “OK” it wouldn’t have to be fixed.

    You’re not OK, but you are forgiven. That would be Biblical. The other title makes light of sin.

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