Cosby Wisdom

October 26, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Before Seinfeld and Friends, there was a tremendously successful sit-com in the 1980’s.It featured a comedian who transitioned to TV to become one of the most powerful forces in TV history. His name was Bill Cosby and the show was The Cosby Show. I thought about that show this week as I was preparing a Bible Study on Galatians 5.

In the book of Galatians, Paul is trying to impart the idea that grace is a free gift from God and we don’t have to follow rules and regulations to be accepted by God. This is a difficult concept for people to get their heads around (including me). After all, the only way to get anything in the world we live in is to earn it, right? The formula of life (at least American life) seems to be: 

Good planning + Hard work = SUCCESS. 

But life in God’s kingdom is different than life in this world. We know that, of course. We know that God has to be added to the equation. However, I think we often just stick God into it and still keep much of what we already believe to be true. So, often, the formula looks like this: 

Faith in Jesus + Good planning + Hard work = SUCCESS. 

Now this formula looks a little better. It seems more spiritual because we have words like Faith and Jesus involved. The problem is that, at least for me, I often still placed most of my focus on my “good planning” and “hard work” and didn’t really know what to do with the whole “faith” thing. Here’s how Paul simplifies the formula in Galatians (and throughout his other letters: 

Faith in Jesus = SUCCESS. 

Seems pretty simple, huh?… A little too simple? I mean “life with God” should require some effort on my part, right? After I become a Christian I should start doing good stuff, right? It ain’t a free ride, is it?… That’s the big question. The Bible says that God’s grace is a free gift. Yet, I often live like I need to keep earning it.  

So… Where does Bill Cosby fit in? Well, I’ll tell you. Although I watched the show regularly and I remember that I enjoyed it and it was funny, I only remember on specific line from the entire 8 year run. To make my point, I’ll set the scene… 

Theo Huxtable (Cosby’s teenage son in the show) is talking to his dad (Cliff Huxtable—Cosby) about getting something he wants. Cliff doesn’t want to give Theo the money for the thing he wants (does this ever happen in real life?!?). Theo then begins to make a case that he has earned the money based on his attitude, behavior, etc. He concludes his case by saying something like, “You owe me this money, dad?” 

Cliff pauses and responds (in true Cosby delivery), “I owe you? Actually, you owe me $465,000…” 

It may not seem like it, but the line was hilarious. Why? Because it is dripping with truth. As I parent, I find myself exasperated by my children’s definition of “fair” every day. Theo was claiming a right to a small sum of money and his dad compared that request to everything that he had provided for his son over the years. In truth, his father had given him everything he ever had. 

The other aspect of the line that adds to the humor is that a father would never seriously present this information in a debate with his child (at least no dads that I know of). I give to my children because I love them. I do not expect any financial remuneration for the food, shelter, and clothing I provide. In fact, there is really no way they could ever repay me for all my wife and I provide. I am not saying that I am an incredible father or provider—I’m just saying I do it because I love my kids. 

I think we often approach God like Theo approached his dad. We feel an obligation to “repay” God for the gift of life with him. The problem is that we can never achieve this goal. It is impossible to pay our debt (see: that’s why Jesus had to die for your sins). God’s gift is priceless… So why do we think that doing certain things is going to make God happier with us than he already is? If you are spending your life trying to pay for something priceless, you will end up feeling empty, tired, and frustrated. 

That seems ridiculous… But that’s what a lot of Christians do. They make an effort to do whatever it is they think God wants them to do and they wear themselves out and fail. In Galatians, Paul is desperately saying that faith in Jesus is all there is. Believe that you are already accepted by God. Believe that he loves you. Believe that he is delighted with you—right NOW (not just sometime in the future when you start acting a little better). 

The Christian life is not about following specific rules and regulations. It is about letting Christ live his life through you—about the fact that Christ is your life. Do you know that? It’s true—not because I say so, but because God says so (Colossians 3:4). 

Your Father wants to give lavishly to you. He wants to love you and be loved by you. That’s the heart of your Father. Maybe you need to stop worrying about getting better and doing things so that you deserve God’s loved and start just being loved.

About admin

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!