Last week, Tampa Bay Rays baseball player Brian Miller shared his testimony with Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar students. He described the pressure he experienced growing up in a culture where he felt like he had to maintain an illusion of perfection. He wanted everyone to see him as the all-star athlete, straight-A student, and good Christian kid who never made mistakes or let anyone down. But striving to uphold this “perfect” front was a heavy burden to bear and Brian found himself wrestling with pride, deceit, and what it means to live a life of integrity.
It wasn’t until Brian truly understood the grace and freedom offered through Jesus’ sacrifice that he realized he wasn’t called to be perfect. He challenged students to reexamine the old cliche “what would Jesus do?” For Brian, that saying seemed to emphasize our own actions and achievement in seeking to live a perfect, Christ-like life. While we certainly do want to emulate Christ in our actions, we cannot justify ourselves through simply living a holy life. Instead, we need the grace and forgiveness of Christ to be righteous before God. So instead of “what would Jesus do?,” Brian asked the students, “what has Jesus done?”
The question “what had Jesus done?” recognizes Jesus’ life and ministry, his death and resurrection, and the forgiveness and unconditional love he offers. Living from an embrace of what Jesus has already done for us propels us into a life of response where we seek to glorify God because of our gratitude for the grace he has already given. This is a vastly different mindset than one that demands actions in an attempt to earn salvation. Brain encouraged the students to spend time reflecting on what Jesus has already done in their lives and recognizing the gift of his unconditional love.