Tullian Tchividjian, grandson of Billy and Ruth Graham and senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, admits that he is no different from other lifelong Christians who grew up with “an upside-down understanding of what Christianity is all about.”
|Pastor Tullian Tchividjian speaks during the chapel hour at PBA.|
“For whatever reason, I grew up with a very, very strong impression that the focus of the Christian faith was the life of the Christian, that Christianity was primarily about me and what I do for God, not primarily Jesus and what He’s done for us,” said Tchividjian, speaking to a standing-room-only crowd in the DeSantis Family Chapel at Palm Beach Atlantic University this week.
Tchividjian said this way of thinking led him into a rebellious period during his teenage years. He said he came to believe that when his behavior was good, God loved him more, and when his behavior was bad, God loved him less.
“I was the centerpiece of the story, and God’s affection for me … was ultimately dependent on me,” he said.
Tchividjian likens this belief system of performance-based Christianity to “spiritualized navel-gazing or spiritualized narcissism.”
Author Jerry Bridges, in his book “Transforming Grace,” writes that those who conclude that God’s love for them changes based upon their actions don’t believe in the Christian faith. They believe in karma, Tchividjian said. “There’s a lot of karmic Christianity inside the church today,” he said.
|Pastor Tullian Tchividjian prays with PBA students in the DeSantis Family Chapel.|
The Bible teaches that because Jesus was strong, we are free to be weak, Tchividjian said. “We’re free to fail because Jesus was strong for us.”
The same can be said when it comes to spiritual growth, he said. It was the Apostle Paul’s willingness to acknowledge how unsanctified he was that demonstrated just how sanctified he was, he said. When believers stop obsessing over their need to get better, they begin to experience what the Bible means by getting better, he said.
Many times we live our lives frantically searching for something we already have, much like someone searching for his or her car keys, he said.
“In the Gospel, God shouts, ‘The keys are in your pocket.’ Everything you need … is ours in Christ,” he said.
Tchividjian is among the featured speakers at the upcoming Liberate 2013 conference that will be held Feb. 21-24 at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale. For information, visit www.2013.liberatenet.org.