I have been struggling lately with my faith for a very specific reason. I am never really happy about struggling in my faith but I know on the other end of this will be a deeper understanding and hopefully a renewed passion for following Jesus.
It is following Jesus that has been the struggle lately; not how I am doing it (although I always feel like I need to do more) but the way it is being presented. Through various books, talks, studies, and the like I have been told two very different ideas that frustrate me.
So here is the frustration, no matter how much people talk about the grace of God there is still an undercurrent that states that your Christian life will be a pursuit of being good. Interestingly Jesus made it very clear that following Him was not about that, but 2000 years later goodness is making a comeback. So break out your moral compass were going on a guilt trip, if its not a sabbath. Because on the sabbath you can’t go anywhere…that was supposed to be funny until I felt the need to explain it.
This is not what I signed on for.
As a parent I think it is great to have children that follow the rules and live life by the straight and narrow. As a pastor I love it when the people that I work with behave themselves. However I have found in ministry that many parents wanted me to make their kids good, and if they happen to come to know Jesus all the better; unless it conflicts with their kids achieving their potential. There are many great Jesus followers and many great churches that make it a practice to follow Jesus with their whole life. I can tell you one thing about these places, they are not safe, and they are not interested in your success. They are interested in one thing and one thing only, following Jesus.
If you are tired of trying to be really good for people or for God, I get it; trust me. If you are tired of pursuing a bunch of religious practices in order to get on God’s good side, I am with you.
Following Jesus is not about being good, in fact it might get you in trouble (more so everyday in the US). Following Jesus is not about finding a safe place to hide until the end, in fact he might challenge you to more than you could have ever imagined for yourself; and then he will be there with you giving you the power to do it.
Following Jesus involves work, I will grant you that, but its the work of relationship, it is the work of rest, it is the work of repentance (fancy word for turning around). Grace means that you don’t have to do anything to come to Jesus, but once you are there it seems like a tremendous waste of time to just sit there and not get to know Him, and in the process come to know yourself.