I have this Bible app that I love. I can listen to God’s word with beautiful music playing in the background. It’s normally so comforting, but today it was not. This app also tells you the amount of time you have spent in God’s word each month. My performance was very lacking. When I saw it, I felt like a little girl getting a bad report card. I felt shame.
I grew up with a religious view of God. Like the magnificent statues in my church when I was little. Beautiful, but cold. The first time I saw the Wizard of Oz, I imagined that that was what God was like, the Wizard. Scary and unaproachable.
Somehow He broke through my view of Him to show me His love and mercy and grace.
I had no problem understanding that I was a sinner the first time I heard someone talk to me about Jesus. I knew I did bad things. I may not have committed murder or stolen from anyone, but I knew that I was quite the little professional when it came to lying. And I knew that was wrong. In my adolescent mind, I understood that my sin separated me from God. I wasn’t worthy to come into His presence.
Some might think that I was merely scared of God because of that thought pattern I was taught from a young age~the fear of His Kingship.
I believe the moment that someone opened the Bible and showed me my sinfulness and need of repentance and how very much God loved me~was the moment His Holy Spirit broke through all my barriers and spoke to my heart…
because that fear had kept me from believing that He was loving and approachable.
That fear had lied to me.
The day I understood that His love for me was so incredible was the day that changed my life.
I think religion tends to make it too hard. In our human minds we believe it must be a process for us to gain approval, because deep down we understand how bad we truly are. We might not want to admit it, but we know.
Here are some facts God wants us to realize~
~It’s not hard, we need only the faith of a child. How simple is that?
~We are all sinners.
~Our sin separates us from God.
~There is nothing we can physically do to “earn” our way to heaven.
~God loves us.
~God sent His Son to earth to save us from ourselves. To save us from our sins. To save us from hell. To close that gap of separation between us and God.
~God’s Son Jesus was born in a manger and died a horrific death on the cross of Calvary. He took every one of our sins upon Himself that day. Every sin from our past, every sin from our future.
~God’s salvation is a free gift to all, a gift that cost Him everything, a gift that we must receive. It isn’t enough for us to say that we believe Jesus died for us. It isn’t enough to say that we know God is loving and forgiving. In complete repentance and surrender, we must receive His gift.
~What does that look like? A heart that is truly sorry for their sin. A soul that says~ God, I am all yours, please forgive me for my sin and save me. A thankful spirit that praises God for the ultimate sacrifice of His Son’s death on the cross. ~A person that knows God is their Father and they are a child of the King. A prayer that will change a person’s life forever. The complete assurance that you are God’s child for eternity and nothing can change that.
I thank God at the age of 12 someone explained that to me. I saw God differently that day. No longer a fearful statue. No longer an unapproachable King. But a Father Who loved me.
It’s been over 50 years since that prayer and yet, there are many times that my old religious thought patterns sabotage me. Times I think everything has to be just right before I can have a prayer session with God. Times I convince myself I messed up big time and He is angry with me. Times like today when I feel my performance is lacking. Perhaps for many of my younger years religion was taught more than repentance. Religion more than relationship. Performance over personal. I am sure it was always with good intentions, but God is so much more that a perfect checklist of good deeds that we must do to gain His approval.
Too often we miss that in our churches.
He is a God Who meets us where we are and it is crazy to me that I am realizing this more and more, the older I get. The many people Jesus went to in the gospels were imperfect sinners just like me. And Oh, how MUCH Jesus loved them. They weren’t religious, they weren’t perfect.
They were me,
and they were you.
He has saved my soul and I know that I will always be His child because the Bible tells me this truth. I also know that I will mess up every day because I am human. Unlike the statues in my old religious settings, God became human for me in the form of an innocent perfect baby. He grew up loving the imperfect and lowly, like me~and He died on the cross for me. During His time here on earth, He knew what it was like to be me and He loves me. And He knows what it’s like to be you. And He loves you too. He understands, He forgives but most important~ He loves.
Religion will not save your soul.
All you have to do is ask.
And for eternity you remain His child.
I will not allow fear to lie to me. The Holy Spirit comforts my heart continually and shows me that my loving Father understands the month I have had, because He has been right here with me through it all.
Not only does He understand, but He meets me here in my weakness and He gives me strength and peace.
Not based on performance.
Based solely on His incredible love for me.
That’s Who my God is, and today I needed that reminder.
I am not worthy because of religion.
I am not accepted because of performance.
I am loved because of Jesus.
No matter what.
Religion does not love you.