This may sound strange, but there have been times when I almost wished I had come to know and accept Jesus later in life, after I had reached a higher level of spiritual understanding. I think, at the heart of it, I wanted to know what it felt like to experience a life of sins (that I actually remember taking part in) that were then washed away when I chose to acknowledge the death and resurrection of Christ.
I was saved in the third grade at a summer camp and, while I vividly remember making that choice and the conviction I felt in my heart, there wasn’t much of a clear “before and after” transition in my life, especially behaviorally, because I was still learning right from wrong, and I hadn’t quite developed the ability to notice or understand my intentions for that behavior.
But my error in thinking this way is that I’m assuming that I was any less lost than any other Christian before their salvation. This, of course, is inherently wrong, but I think it does sort of indicate how I compartmentalized my faith for much of my life.
I subscribed absolutely to the chores of Christianity and the list of things I thought had to do to earn God’s favor and feel secure in him. I think much of this derived from being raised in a house of faith and the idea that “good behavior” wasn’t the goal, but the norm.
Thankfully, I’ve since experienced trials, pains, joys and other situations that have shifted my view of faith into a much healthier place. That being said, my job isn’t done. Each day, I’m constantly wrestling with the intentions as to why or why not I make certain decisions or actions. I continue to ask God, “What else do you need?” without really thinking about how he needs me as a child who can contribute to the his kingdom and glory. I get so caught up trying to please him, I forget that, once we’ve entered into his love, he will use us according to his will, not according to what we think might be helpful to him.
It’s a bit of a selfish attitude, for sure, and it’s something that I think we can all relate to. A unique aspect of the Christian life is that it’s a never-ending process that doesn’t have a finite level of completion. We should be grateful for this, because it allows us to continually humble ourselves at the foot of Christ and recognize that we can’t add anything to what Jesus has done for us.
What a beautifully liberating truth that is. We should feel free. Free from our worldly pursuits, free from our continuous comparisons and free from our desires for wealth and acceptance. More than these, however, we’re free from sin and the debt-ridden flesh that we carried, but Jesus removed.
As you move on through this week, I would challenge you — much like you were challenged through Sunday’s sermon — to be aware of the situations in which you’re trying to bring to Jesus something you think is useful or necessary and, instead, come to him empty-handed, trusting he will lead you as he sees fit.