Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase that essentially means ‘something for something’ or ‘this for that’. A longer definition is ‘something that is given to you or done for you in return for something you have given to or done for someone else’ (Merriam-Webster). It is a common legal phrase, popular in contract law and whenever binding agreements are made. In order to make something ‘quid pro quo’, there has to be an exchange that takes place.
Within law and politics, quid pro quo is an amazing concept. It is needed to form legally binding agreements. As humans, we are quite fond of quid pro quo. In fact, we are so fond of it that we reinterpret the Bible to fit around it-a ‘Quid Pro Quo Gospel’.
In America, many sitting in churches are quite familiar and fond of this alternative Gospel. It’s a ‘this for that’ scenario; Jesus died in order that salvation may be found, so if they give their good works, he will save them from their sins. It seems like a quite simple concept; if we work hard enough, we can earn salvation.
Although we, as hardworking American people, are extremely fond of quid pro quo Gospel, there is just one problem: Jesus despises it. He LOATHES it. The concept of trying to exchange something for salvation, doing enough good in order to earn eternal life, ‘something for something’ is repulsive to him.
Have you ever noticed how many fights Jesus got in with the Pharisees and religious leaders of his day? They were many things, but they were also prime models of quid pro quo. They thought that if they held to the law, if they did all the external things correctly, that they would be automatically saved. Quid. Pro. Quo.
Jesus was extremely fast to demolish those false beliefs. In John 14:6, he boldly proclaims, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Further along in the New Testament, Ephesians 2:8-9 reads, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Are you clinging to the quid pro quo version of the Gospel? It is so simple for us to do. The enormity of salvation leaves us feeling overwhelmingly inadequate, and it is the natural human instinct to try to do something to earn it. However, that’s not how grace works.
Jesus calls you to come to the altar, and lay everything down. He doesn’t want your good works, he doesn’t want your striving: he wants YOU. He went and hung on a cross because he wanted to die rather than live forever separated from you and I. Even though we’re sinful, horrific creatures, he sees us as his wondrous creation that he wants to pour love and compassion onto.
What will you do? Will you continue to cling to quid pro quo and attempt to earn your salvation? Or, will you come to the altar and drink in the amazing grace given through the blood of Jesus? You could spend a lifetime striving for salvation and never achieve it, or you could step into the amazing love Jesus freely offers right now. The choice is yours.