Monday, August 24, 2015

Not afraid

An interesting conversation about grace with friends this weekend brought up the subject of our fear of God. Without really thinking about it, the first thought I had flew out of my mouth, "I'm not afraid of God."

I wrapped my brain around what I had just said as I saw the surprised looks on some of the other faces at the table. Maybe everyone should be backing away from me slowly, on the lookout for lightning bolts. Maybe the earth is about to swallow me up. I know God was listening. Did I really mean what I just said?


This morning I looked through old blog posts for evidence of my previous fear. I know that I used to be afraid of God. Honestly, some of them were hard to read. One word kept coming up though.


In one post I commented how God's love seemed a lot to me like the selfish love I'd already encountered in this world. (Love that left me broken, hurting, untrusting.)

In another post I made it clear I was taking John 12:25 literally.

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life 
in this world will keep it for eternal life. ~John 12:25

I was totally scared God was going to make me miserable while using me for His plans... with the promise that "in eternity it wouldn't matter..."

If I could just endure, just get through this life without messing up, it would be a testimony for others to see and He would be happy with me... and that all mattered more (to Him) than me being miserable. It was exhausting. No wonder I was fighting Him all the time.

So what made the difference? Why did I stop fearing God?

The Gospel of Grace. Finally learning what grace really is and how it applies in our lives, I'm diving into a deeper relationship with Him and rising to the surface with a level of trust I didn't know I could have. Knowing that I am the righteousness of God in Christ, and that He sees me as perfect (in spite of my mistakes) breaks off the constant performance anxiety and fear of His consequences.

Don't misunderstand, I do believe sin still has earthly consequences. But I'm no longer living under the fear that one wrong move, action, or thought, will bring upon me His wrath or His indifference, the latter of which probably scared me more.

The word "gospel" literally means "good news" and the word it comes from is actually better defined as "nearly too good to be true news." 

A God Who loves me, and isn't watching for the moment I make a mistake so that He can move on to someone more faithful, better suited for His work, or who isn't rewarding my faithfulness with indifference... for a girl who has spent most of her life fearing indifference and abandonment more than anything, that IS "nearly too good to be true news." And yet, I am fully convinced of its truthfulness, trusting God more today than I ever have... although probably a little less than I will tomorrow. :-)

There is no fear in love.
 But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. 
The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
~1 John 4:18 NLT

Sunday, August 9, 2015

What are you doing?

What are you doing to be a good Christian?

Die to yourself daily.
Make good choices.
Stop sinning.
Love one another.
Feed the poor.
Be perfect.

It seems like Jesus sure expects a lot from us.

I don't know about you,
but I think that list sounds exhausting.
Reading that does not give me joy.
Reading that is depressing.
I can't do those things.
That does not sound like Good News.

If you agree, I do have some actual Good News for you.

Living a Christian life isn't really about DOING anything.

People see that list and are discouraged, I was.
Nobody can do all of that. Nobody can be perfect.

People lose heart because of all the stuff
they feel like they have to do to be a good Christian,
to be acceptable in God's sight.

But really, those changes to your life will be the natural fruit of your walk with Him.

If you are making choices to change the way you behave
and are only doing so through your own effort,
you will fail the moment your human effort gives out.

Spending time with Him,
really getting to know Him,
understanding who He made you to be...
it will make the parts of you that don't reflect Him wither away.
It won't be as difficult as it seems because you won't want them anymore.

And when that happens, you will realize
that the change really did happen in His strength,
and you couldn't have done it on your own anyway.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.
It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, 
and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.
~Titus 2:11-12 (Emphasis mine)

(In other words, stop relying on yourself to get it right and rely on the grace of God!)