I refused to write anything that wasn’t the gospel—the proclamation of Christ’s work on the cross to save sinners. I wrote about difficult things. I wrote primarily on things I had, or would shed tears over, and I wrote the only words that I knew would dry my own tears in the face of persisting racismlost ambitionthe sanitation of Jesusutter personal failuremore racism (now with tiki torches), or terrorist bombings targeting children.

But as I read, for the first time since I really fell in love with the gospel, I had a brush with pure cynicism about the gospel. I read my own words, “you’ve been the klansmen on the ground,” and thought, dammit, anyone could write that. Because writing the gospel into current events is really easy. Your entire cast is the reader and Jesus. The role of the obvious villain goes to your reader, and the role of the self-sacrificial hero of the story goes to Jesus. Personal stories are perhaps even easier. Start with a time when you didn’t understand or trust the gospel. Describe how bad it was. Miraculous transformation via new understanding and BOOM! you’ve got a nice little essay that no one can disagree with.

stop, I hear my own voice say. You’re onto something, but you’ll miss it if you go much further.

Cynicism is a dangerous game. Its power is to reveal. Cynicism reveals banal patterns, repeated lies, dangerous ambiguities. If you can watch the news, or go on Instagram without a healthy dose of cynicism, I’m so sorry, you must be exhausted.

Cynicism also reveals the cynic for what he truly is: scared.

Cynicism also reveals the cynic for what he truly is: scared.

I read my own pieces cynically because I’m scared if I buy into a self-conception that I’m a talented writer I’ll fall that much harder. I read the encouragements of friends cynically because I’m scared it comes from obligation. I read the Gospel cynically for the same reason anyone does: I’m scared it’s too easy.

That’s what I’m on to. The Gospel is really easy.

The Gospel is easy because it’s the only message I’ve ever gotten that tells me it isn’t up to me. It’s not up to me to be good enough to make it where I’m going. I don’t have to choose apathy so I don’t get hurt. The Gospel is paradoxically difficult because it is so shockingly easy. It’s the only place in the world where I get a perfectly undeserved “well done.” It’s the only place where the “well done” is final, where “well done” leads to rest rather than higher expectations.

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer,
But this I know with all my heart:
His wounds have paid my ransom!

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And yours, too. Rest well.

Read more from Jackson here