One of the great misconceptions about Christianity is that it is a list of "do's" and "don't's." Maybe that is because we have a tendency to minister more to the do's and dont's than focus on the miracle of grace. Don't get me wrong-holiness not only has it's place, but the pursuit of it is the hallmark of the believer's life. But without the grace, it is really nothing. There are many writings that teach believers how to live a holy life. There is certainly a need for that.
But, for those out there wrestling to understand what it all means, there is only one place to begin: the grace of God. Understanding that we are all broken, we all need a Savior. It's important to realize that none of the things on the do list is what secures us in the hand of God. That is why Jesus is such a radical thought. That is why grace is so amazing. Because He wants you to know: He did it all for you! We need to embrace our brokenness and realize that we can't fix ourselves. Oh, the sweet release when we let go!
Ephesians 2:8-9 "For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, and not of works, lest any man should boast."
My favorite Bible verse! It is the one that God used to open my eyes to the real Gospel. To who He really is. It's not about what I have done, or who I am--it is simply about faith in who He is and what He has done for you! None of us can boast about how good we are, because it is only God who makes us good.
There are many voices out there and it is important to realize that not all voices are geared to the same audience. There are wonderful ladies who's ministry is to call other women who are believers to a Biblical role of motherhood and marriage. There are some out there who's ministry is to bless those who are wounded with healing words of grace. There are some voices who's ministry is to clarify doctrinal teachings to us and expose false teachings. We cannot discredit any of them-they all have their place.
For those of us who have experienced the transforming grace of God, we need to understand that God uses His children to speak truth to our hearts and lives. We should not see it as a haughty thing, but rather, if we hear something that bothers us in our Spirit we need to evaluate whether or not it is true and then pray about whether or not it is the Spirit speaking into our lives. Chances are, you will never hear God speak audibly to you! And while we cannot "change" people, we can speak the truth that God has given us and let Him use it to penetrate and transform. Chances are, if there is something bothering us about what someone has said, it is because there is a kernel of truth to it. My friend Tina put it so well on Facebook when she said:
"When the righteousness of others convicts us, we need not allow it to become bitterness in our hearts turning us against the righteous. Instead, we ought to allow it to push us closer to Jesus, resulting in righteousness in our hearts, turning us toward righteousness and thereby we gain/keep a friend. "
Ugh. She was so right. And many times I have let the words of others become bitterness in my heart. My own pride and sinfulness tries to stand squarely in the way of my growth and a closer walk with Jesus.
If God is drawing you to Him and you have never made a commitment to Him, know that He is not concerned with what you have done. He simply loves you and wants your heart. Don't be concerned with "What I have to change to be a Christian"--it is only about faith. But be prepared for a wild ride. You can't change yourself, but God will transform you if you let Him!
The purpose of this blog is to speak to both. Both those who have a relationship with Jesus, and those who do not. The reasons I write and share what God has done in my life is because God has used the words of others to penetrate my heart and push me on to righteousness. It's not because I think I am more mature than others or have a better walk. It is simply because there are those out there who were brave enough to risk my bitterness to tell me the truth. I am eternally thankful for that.