Recently, my children have re-discovered slang from the 80’s and 90’s (possibly because their parents lived through those decades). If you remember those years, I won’t drag you through memories of styles and trends that would be embarrassing today, but one key phrase from the past was “totally awesome“. In fact, while things could be “totally awesome”, something our friend just said might be met with, “totally” (or, more precisely, “totally, dude…totally“).
Now, to be clear, there is only One who is totally and completely awesome. Only God has the unmatched ability to creatively create the universe from nothing, and to wield ultimate power over it. (See Deuteronomy 7:21, for instance.)
God’s glory (and awesomeness) is a topic for other articles, though. Today, lets inspect a verse from the letter to Titus, from Paul the apostle:
He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.
Titus 2:14 NLT
This verse (like many in the Bible) is talking about Jesus. It is clear that Jesus was totally committed to us. He was – and is, and will continue to be – totally God, but for a period of time He walked this earth, and was also fully human. Jesus yielded His divine power, and chose to submit to a sacrificial death for our sins.
When we look at Jesus praying before His crucifixion (Luke 22:39-44), we can appreciate that He was not immune to the dread of suffering. He didn’t get a pass from experiencing pain of the body, mind, and soul. Jesus was totally committed to His mission, though, never straying from righteous behavior, and never abandoning the purpose for which He had come to earth.
The result of this is that Jesus totally saves those who accept and follow Him (see Acts 2:36-41 for an example of what this looks like). He doesn’t just reduce our sentence, or make us work off the rest of our sin-debt (which is death, so that’s difficult to partially pay for). He totally covers our sin; in the verse above, we become free from “every kind of sin”. And, He offers this to all of us (see John 3:16).1
Not only that, but we become God’s people. We remember that the ancient Hebrews were called to be God’s people, when God delivered them from slavery in Egypt. At Mt. Sinai, He gave them special instructions on what it meant to be His people, where their practices and worship would look different from other beliefs (because they were serving a fundamentally different God from the nations around them).
Just like God had instructions for His chosen people at Mt. Sinai, though, He has instructions for us. We aren’t just saved for our own benefit; instead, we are delivered to freedom (and adopted into God’s family) so that we can live like Jesus. Unlike the old system of sacrifices for sins, though, Jesus eliminated the need of any further death to pay for our sins, so we can freely serve God.
For followers of Jesus, good deeds aren’t accumulated to get us into Heaven. They don’t impact our salvation. Instead, they are a privilege: an expression of our love for Jesus Christ, and a way of sharing the great blessings with other people (as we learn to love them as Jesus loved them).
John 14:15 is a popular verse to emphasize this point, but let’s look at a couple of others as well, all written by the apostle John, under the inspiration of God:
Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”
John 14:21 NLT
We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments.
1 John 5:2 NLT
It is no wonder that Paul wrote about how Jesus was totally dedicated (my words, not Paul’s) to us so that we would be “totally committed to doing good deeds”. Not only is this behavior the sort of lifestyle that God wishes to see in us, but it is better for us, too!
Being totally committed to serving Jesus through our good deeds is, like, totally awesome, dude!
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
- In the southern U.S., John 3:16 wouldn’t necessarily be referring to “totally everyone”, it would probably be considered “all y’all”, which is a great phrase that I think more English speakers should adopt. ↩