MANY people of faith live fine, upstanding lives. We’re honest, trustworthy, and we work hard. We’re not involved in any devious schemes or criminal behavior. We do our best to obey God’s Word.
Still, I catch myself falling back on something that really isn’t faith. On one hand, I get obsessed with rules, with what I have to do. I get mad and frustrated with rule breakers, whether it’s me or someone else.
Or, I might get lazy. I use excuses like times change, God is merciful, and I’m too tired to stand up for what’s right.
And there’s the problem. The rules.
It’s either they are everything or nothing. I’m thinking I must reverse engineer my faith. That is, take it apart and get back to the source.
We say God is love, but what do we really mean by this? Nobody can explain it precisely. But it must be incredibly good and pure. It makes you better than you can be on your own.
I think of when I held my newborn sons in my arms. What you feel is close to the true nature of God’s love. It’s intense, palpable. Nobody needs to explain it to you. You love someone unconditionally from day one.
But still, so many times I want to make rules, even just in my mind. This is a lonely process. But I can’t love anyone if I’m alone. And I can’t let anyone love me either.
So many are obsessed these days with enforcing rules or breaking them. And everybody has their own personal rulebook. No wonder we live in such a chaotic world.
Some people say religion, as we know it, is fading away. I hope they are right. I hope conduct-centered religion withers away.
Yes, people are doing horrible things out there. But I know condemning them won’t help them. It won’t show them God. Yes, we must all live with the consequences of our actions.
But it’s time to return to the ancient promise to bring forth fresh hope.
Since the dawn of humankind, God loved us. He gave us chance after chance to live as his beloved children. But we forgot about him. We became complex creatures that chase after ghosts thinking they can soothe the emptiness inside.
Jesus said, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)
What could possibly be the righteousness that surpasses that of the rule makers?
It’s the righteousness of mercy, the righteousness of love. In those things, everything else is fulfilled.
We get so tangled up in the way we think things should be, instead of the way they are. Yes, we must stand up for our convictions, but where do you get the strength to fight? Just from being right? How long can that sustain you before you become bitter and exhausted?
I say, dig deeper. Go to where God’s love lives in you to gain the strength to move mountains. Re-learn his love for you.
Are you facing difficulty or injustice? How is it affecting your soul? Are you chewing yourself up inside? Are you drinking from the bitter cup of vengeance?
We may say they (or even we) deserve condemnation, but the demon is ravenous. If we let resentment grow, it eventually devours those near and dear to you.
So I say, get untangled from it all. It’s not wishing for a fairy godmother to make it all better. You’re not dropping bombs from the sky either. Instead, you stand with God, like Jesus does.
His heart remains good and pure. He fights tenaciously, nourished by his Father’s love. He does not tolerate sin in any way, shape, or form, so he goes to the cross to see it put it to death. And then he rises. For you and with you.
Some may say, “But that’s Jesus. I can’t love and forgive like him. My reality is different.” That’s what the world of hurt and shame taught you. That’s what the enemy wants you to believe, that miracles never happen. Unlearn this. Then relearn the Gospel.
When you follow Christ, he is your strength and salvation. All things are possible.
He is the rule that all other rules must follow. That is why he is King. And even greater works will come forth from those that believe.
You can let resentment suck the life out of you. Or you can ask for this special grace, to love more, and the Lord will lift you up.
So go back. Start again. Reengineer your faith.
Begin with the ancient promise–that God is your Creator and that his creation is good.
. . . . . . .
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.Genesis 1:27,31
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.John 14:12-14
Never miss a post. Subscribe to Third Millennium Man.