Are you a Christian….or just being religious?

I love being able to write about different things.  I think that’s one thing my blog has been consistent with so far.  Basically, not being consistent…is my consistency.  Maybe that’s not a good philosophy when writing a blog, but it’s the stance I’m taking at the moment…ha.  I enjoy writing about life situations, funny thoughts, but also I want to let you guys in on what is going on in my life on a more personal and spiritual level.  I want to take you along with me on the journey in my walk.  Currently in my quiet times, I’m working through the book Gospel in Life by Timothy Keller.  This week we really focused on Gospel vs. Religion.  Wow, who knew there was a difference.  I’ll take you through some of my thoughts and findings about this. Instead of referencing Keller every few seconds, just know that most of these views come from his book.  Basically, Religion is when someone says, “I obey; therefore, I’m accepted.”  Living the Gospel is saying, “I’m accepted; therefore, I obey.”   Religion is motivation that is based upon fear and pride.  Living the Gospel is motivation that is based upon grateful joy.  Do you find yourself sometimes doing things, not because it simply gives joy to the Lord, but because you are scared of the consequences you may face if you don’t do them (like volunteering at your church, feeding the homeless…etc)? Or, to even bend your mind more, do you find yourself NOT indulging in a sin because of the consequences you may face? Do you say NO to ungodliness because of it’ll make you look bad, because you’ll be excluded from your social circles, because you’ll hate yourself in the morning, because God won’t bless you?  If you answered yes to those questions, then you are living a Religion…not the Gospel.  Your deepest joys and hopes rest in those things, not God.  You you are merely turning from that sin for selfish reasons, which is fear and pride (the very things that lead you into sin). You should turn from your sin, merely because it hurts the Lord.  You shouldn’t feel guilty because of how that sin will make you look or appear to others.  You should feel sorry for the sin itself, and how that sin will affect your relationship with God.  Also, don’t suffer and anguish over your sin to convince to God and yourself that you are truly sorry and deserve to be forgiven. Jesus already suffered for your sin.  Simply receive the forgiveness earned by Christ. People get burnt out in their faith, works, and church because of living religious. They think they have to prove their acceptance to Christ (and their selves) by obeying and doing good things.  Christ has already accepted you.  Helping at AWANAS or feeding the homeless is great, but if you are simply doing it because it proves to yourself that you are “good,” then Christ gains nothing from that. You are simply doing those things for you and you alone.  Or, you are doing good things simply so God will bless you.  This is why so many apparently “moral” people can fall into great sins.  Underneath the SEEMING unselfishness is GREAT self-centeredness. Isaiah 64:6 tells us that even our most righteous acts are like filthy rags before the Lord.  Nothing YOU can do, none of YOUR works, will ever make you acceptable before the Lord.  The fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins is what makes you acceptable to Him.

This kind of heart isn’t something that you can have instantly.  I wish it were that easy.  I wish that I can say “Yesterday I fed the homeless because of how good it makes me feel inside, but tomorrow….I’m changing and doing it simply to give Joy to the Lord.  This kind of SELFLESS motivation can only grow in someone deeply touched by God’s grace.  If you really want to change, you have to let the GOSPEL teach you, train you, discipline you, and coach you over a period of time.  The gospel has to argue with you.  You must let the gospel sink down deeply into your heart, until it changes your motivation, views, and attitude.”  So, how can you start living this life?  Repent!   Admit you are flawed.  Ask God to forgive you not only of the wrong things you’ve done, but for the selfish reasons you did the good things. Knowing you are already accepted in Christ makes it easier to admit that you are flawed.  You can be assured that you will not be cast off if you confess the true depths of your sinfulness.  Our hope is in Christ’s righteousness, not our own.

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One Response to Are you a Christian….or just being religious?

  1. Judy Hall says:

    The idea of religion or relationship and my position between the two was not revealed to me until a few years ago. I was a baby Christian for 25 years–failure to thrive. My father was a Southern Baptist minister, but maturity is not based on others. It is based on a personal daily response to the Gospel.

    I was 25 (37 y.o.) before, through the leading of the HS, I asked God to show me my sin through His eyes. I can say I was broken. I think is was closer to disintegration. How grateful I am that God made his love for me very clear the entire time. He never let go. He grew me through is Word, mentoring of mature women of my church and an excellent Bible Study that God used to grow me by leaps and bounds in a short period of time.

    I am still blown away how God works around and through me. I am blown away how He has chosen to use me musically and in the job for which I never would have looked without His direction and provision. It is so clear that this job is one that is sifting me for later Godly uses and drawing one more future child for the Kingdom as I try my best to live as Christ at work. I am blown away how He is slowly but surely healing my family after a crises period in our lives several years ago. I am blown away how He is healing my mind/spirit as I have become far more particular in what goes in or what thoughts I allow to stay and on which ones I choose to ruminate.

    I have gone from religion to relationship. I have gone from taking the relationship for granted (most of the 25 years) to humbly recognizing reality through the revelation of the Holy Spirit of the Gospel. How can I say thanks? I will say thanks by taking one step with Him at a time and living my life in such a way that people are pointed to Christ. Thank you, Jesus, for the gospel.

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