Maybe you grew up hearing this little poem.
Jesus loves me when I’m good, when I do the things I should. Jesus loves me when I’m bad, though it makes him very sad.
This poem breaks my heart. I am oh-so-glad that the Bible tells me Jesus loves me whether I am good or bad, but I don’t think that’s the message in these words. These words, simplified for an otherwise wonderful children’s song, mar the Gospel almost beyond recognition.
Sin is in our DNA. We’re bad, and we have been since before the first child murdered his own brother. Does Jesus live (again!) in a constant state of sorrow over our sin? If the Gospel is Good News, why is the very Bringer still sad? I don’t believe He is. The Bible says Jesus paid for our sins once and for all, to not only cover our sins but to become His righteousness (1 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus sees those He has saved as His righteousness, he considers those who put their trust in Him as “found” and we celebrate their repentance like the Prodigal Son’s father celebrated the return of his lost son in Luke 15.
Our sins grieve the Holy Spirit, scripture says, and that’s something we ought to take very seriously. I see the Holy Spirit’s jurisdiction as sanctification in my soul. The spirit is in charge of spiritual growth, in making me more like the Son, Jesus. So, naturally, sin would grieve the Holy Spirit. It is against our nature as new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). Sin separates us from God (for a Christian, not for eternity, but while sinful desires reign, the spirit does not). It hurts our communion with God and others, both of which are required for spiritual growth (1 John 1:7).
My spiritual growth, or lack thereof, doesn’t influence my worth before God. Jesus Christ alone influences my worth before God. Furthermore, my worth was established once and for all on the cross.
Thinking about God’s love for me in terms of my deeds is counter to the Gospel, which is the power unto salvation. It is also counter to my holiness, which is an important part of loving God, of growing to understand God’s love for me.