Oh boy, the very topic of religion and faith begin to rustle our feathers. My parents came into town for the weekend to watch our son while my husband and I enjoy a couple nights away for the very first time. We are extremely excited but it’s almost as if we are both waiting for something terribly bad to happen as you can see with our life….things simply don’t slow down. We live in a sarcastic zone right now almost expecting something to occur while joking with one another to only help keep our sanity alive. We sit in a stupor of “what just happened” kind of state while we try and process everything. It would actually be humorous to the outside world taking a look in to our home and the Cook’s sitting on the couch entirely unengaged by what is taking place in life not even able to converse with one another; simply starring at the motion streaming across the TV.
While we were chit-chatting last night with my parents, the topic of religion and faith got brought up. This is a sticky topic and tends to make many people uncomfortable. Isn’t that what we want, a place of uncomfortability? This is where we should be! I know it sounds clique but in all reality a comfortable place is a scary place. We never want to be comfortable with God, there should always be a relationship bouncing back and forth forcing contemplation of life and actions as well as a forward progression.
The topic of “earning” our place with God got brought up. Sometimes we live in a world of complete expectation; if you do something for me, than I’ll do something for you. This is exactly how we treat relationships. We fight against this very thing only to find this is exactly what we are looking for if we are honest. Perfect example- my husband was never blessed with a good childhood or parents who truly loved him. He thought from a young age, if he did all these things than they would accept him. That never happened. He joined the Airforce, got his bachelors and masters degree, went ahead and got his CPA license and now here he is….35 years old questioning his very being. What was all of that for? It was all for the very purpose of wanting to be accepted by his wealthy, prestige family who wouldn’t bat an eye at him unless he became something great. Even after all that, he wasn’t successful in their eyes. Years in school, hundreds of thousands of dollars spent only for the sake of their acceptance and longing to be loved never being met; my husbands happiness sunk deep into a hole. Realizing years later that he doesn’t even enjoy what he does for a living, it was all simply for the sake of “becoming something greater” that never existed. That greatness is within my husband, not the jobs be preforms. This is the concept we all need to remind ourselves of. This is a sad reality.
Earning acceptance comes in many different forms but we all do it on some level or another. We crave relationships and this is exactly why the weight of friendships become so heavy. We think we are being the best friend possible to only be let down because their reciprocation isn’t as much as yours is. These are lies that you are believing. We need to live in a relationship for that relationship and not what you can get out of it, but what you can bless them with. This is what makes great people of the world, this is what brings credibility, this is what brings true friendship and love. This is what helps create happiness.
Letting go of expectation will bring about a giving heart. This is where Christ wants us. We need to serve those around us just as Christ has called us to do. This all ties into religion and the expectation that if we are “good enough” God will bless us. This isn’t how relationships work, so why would we want a religion that works that way. Works based religion will only tear you down because you will and cannot ever be good enough. Look at my husband, he did everything he knew they would like but it was never enough. Do you really want to Worship a God who you can’t quite meet up to His standards and waste your life trying? We become consumed with these thoughts to only blame God for not following through on His end of the bargain. “I’ve been faithful, I’ve stayed married, I had multiple children, I help friends, I work hard, I share my money so why aren’t you blessing me back?” These are the very thoughts we take on when life gets hard. I’ve done all these things so why are you bringing tragedy into my life? Why are we in the hospital with my son, I’ve been faithful? Why did my mother have to die without resolution? Why? Why? Why?
The very essence of our works based religion stems from a selfish gain. I’ve done all these things so you should pour down blessing on me? It’s the very thought that keeps our focus on ourselves not Christ. God wants to pour blessings upon us, but when our perspective is on HIM not OURSELVES. He also wants us to get the very essence that we are forgiven before we even act upon our sin. This is a faith based relationship with God, not a religion. God wants us to accept the fact that we are forgiven and have the gift of salvation, NOTHING is to be earned. We don’t want to strive so hard in friendships to earn their approval, those relationships are not worth out time, so why would we do the same with God?
Friends, we all need to remember that God died for us a painful death only for the sake of taking the sin of the world upon His shoulders before we even sinned those very sins. He had to take upon the impossible to create the possible! Without his death and resurrection, there is no point in living! We are redeemed brothers and sisters and need to start living in that redemption. He forgave us when he was strung upon the cross; walk in that freedom! This is Faith not religion. Faith is accepting the gift of Christ not earning something he’s already handed us. There are a million billion doors of love to walk through and one of those doors is for you! God has strategically placed His loving hand in your life waiting for you to accept it and walk through the door of true life; living in grace and freedom! No matter how flawless your behavior, the answer to being worthy enough of Christ’s love is always no. You are not worthy enough by any means, but simply because He loves you. Your performance and Christ’s love are completely different issues, which we all need to sort out. “I love you with an everlasting Love that flows out from eternity without limits or conditions.” ~Sarah Calling
You are not trapped and enslaved to sin! There is a hope and a future! Even though life is down right horrible and painful at times, our hope begins to be refined when in the midst of hardship, begging for something greater than ourselves. When life gets messy we seek for something bigger than our powerless hands, but when life is fantastic we use our hands to try and run the world thinking we have it all under control! We must not let unexpected events throw us off course.
Moment of Truth: Learning to accept the forgiveness already handed to you and choosing to talk in that freedom. You are redeemed! “If I have you permanent Peace, independent of My Presence, you might fall into the trap of self-sufficiency.” ~Sarah Young