As I grow older I find myself looking back at my childhood. I grew up in a loving home. My parent were (and still are) fulltime Christian missionaries. For the most part it was a happy childhood. There were no major dramas in my life that would make me look back distastefully. My parents truly love God and have been diligently serving Him for over 39 years. Many things that I do now I learned from my parents. But there are other things that I do, and some I avoid, because I see that the motivation behind them is invalid according to Scripture.
I grew up being told that I had to act a certain way, dress a certain way, and talk a certain way if I was going to be able to please God. FOR ME the result was that I knew how to act like a Christian without actually having to be a Christian. I conformed to the rules because if I didn’t I would be in trouble. I did not believe in the necessity of my actions because I did not believe there really was a God. I remember clearly having this conversation, “God if you are real then let me see you.” I never saw a thing.
Some would argue that I could see God in the people that serve Him and love Him. My response is, “I know those people and they are not as good as they look.” Some had anger issues, others were liars, and some were simply evil. Now, granted, some held up their end of the bargain very well. What was the problem then? I could hold up my end of the bargain very well too! But I certainly was no Christian.
Now I was no saint, but I managed to fool many people for a long time. Which led me to the question, “If I am just faking it, then how many of them are too?” Or to put is more bluntly, “I certainly can’t be the only one that is full of it.”
Today, I would classify myself as a sinner saved by grace. That is, I am a follower of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God. I look at my life and see a staggering amount of sin. Daily I call upon the Holy Spirit of God to strengthen my weak will against the evil I must avoid.
So, what changed? From the rule keeping life I used to live, to the never ending struggle I now face daily. I would point to two things that have drastically changed. First, is my view and understanding of who God is. Second, my view of who I am.
I realized that there is nothing I can ever do that will please God. NOTHING! Not one thing, not now, not ever. This lifted a tremendous load off of my shoulders. I could do nothing worse than what I was, and I could do nothing to better God’s opinion of me. I knew I was a sinner, and for the first time in my life I was “o.k.” with that. I am not saying that I condone sin in any way. I am saying that I finally realized that all my attempts to please God had failed and that they always would. I came to terms with the reality of sin. It was a part of me and I could do nothing about it. Honestly it was a relief.
It was then that I also understood the most glorious truth in the entire universe, “God showed His love for us, by sending Christ to die for us, while we were STILL SINNERS.” (Romans 5:8 my own translation) What I could not do, God DID! What I wanted but could never afford, God GAVE! He, God, the creator of the universe, the only perfect being in existence, made a way for me to be forgiven. FORGIVEN! Not just conformed to the rules. Not made into a clone. I was declared not guilty, because Jesus took my punishment. I was finally set free!
Now I have peace with God. I no longer try to please Him. I don’t have to. He is pleased with me, because of Jesus. Now I try to live in a way that brings glory to Him. Now I try to give Him the praise He deserves. I don’t have to please God. I want to simply worship Him. The things I used to struggle with are still there, they call to me, but I no longer HAVE to answer. There are times when I still indulge in sin, (way too many times). But I know that God is still pleased with me. Certainly not with my actions. But HE is still pleased with ME.
The struggle with sin will not end until I see God face to face or I die. Whichever comes first. But the struggle with trying to please God, THAT is over! I love Him. I want to worship Him. I want to do what He wants me to do. But even when I fail, I DO NOT FEAR HIS DISPLEASURE! I am accepted in the Beloved. I am His. How about you?