When my husband and I were dating he would often say “It’s not what you do. It’s who you are that makes the difference!” This phrase would normally arise when we talked about the christian faith, and my relationship to Jesus Christ. He explained to me that I could never do enough things in order to be a christian. But it was Christ in me that made the difference. My husband is a man that I respect when it comes to his faith in God, however, at first, I did not understand what he meant, and I would usually get frustrated with him.
Coming from a background where I thought I had to be perfect, I naturally wanted to work my way into the christian faith. Whether that meant reading my bible, praying, going to church EVERY Sunday, etc. I had made Christianity into a list of do’s and don’t’s. If I had done everything on this list, then I was a “good” christian. If not, then I was a “bad” christian. I was under the false impression that with enough good works under my belt, I would finally be cleansed of all of my sins.
To me, you could not be a christian unless you did something “christian-y”. For many years i wanted to “DO” Christianity. I read my bible, frantically at times, played the good-girl, never smoked, and only cussed on occasion. After all I was a professing christian who really did give her heart to God. When I asked my husband what he thought I was trying to accomplish during my “doing” years he said that it looked like I was trying to do things that only God could accomplish.
It made me wonder for a long time why the aspect of doing good works was such a big deal for me? Why was I obsessed with the accomplishment of doing things right?
Years ago, my husband and I went to a marriage retreat where we learned about the “Five Love Languages”. In the course of taking the Five Love Languages Test, I discovered that I liked to be loved through “words of affirmation”. To put it simply, I liked to be praised when I did something good. It made me feel like I had accomplished something. However, there were two problems with this mode of thinking. 1) Every time some one gave me a positive word of affirmation the greater I felt. However, in order for me to keep getting those affirmations I had to keeping doing “good”. And if I didn’t get these affirmation I didn’t feel validated. 2) Unfortunately, I wanted to apply these same principle to my Christian faith. If I had done something “christian-y” and good (according to my standards) then I wanted God to tell me “Great Job Steph”.
It took me many, many years to figure out that God wants a close and personal relationship with His children! Can you imagine the king of the universe looking at you and saying “Even though I made you, and know everything there is to know about you, I love you so much that I want to sit and talk with YOU!” God doesn’t want a person to “DO” christianity. He wants a love relationship! God wasn’t going to judge me if I made a mistake. HE LOVES ME no matter what! And I don’t have to work my way into perfection for him. I AM perfect because I accepted Jesus as my Savior.
*Craig Groeschel said in his book, The Christian Atheist,
God cares about how we live. And a relationship with God naturally will flow out in daily attitudes and actions. So if you look good, you are good, right? Well, maybe not. Knowing God can lead to a positive lifestyle, but the reverse isn’t true. Our outward actions alone don’t prove that we enjoy an inward relationship with God. Just because we do good doesn’t mean we know the ONE who is good.”
Today, I’m not so frantic to get everything right in my Christian faith. Even when everything is going crazy around me, I’m slowly learning to enjoy being in God’s presence. I have had to learn the hard way that a relationship with God is not a destination you reach, but a journey that you travel. Think about it, when you are in love with a person, you don’t want to get married to that person & then leave them at the altar. That makes no sense! You want to share your everyday life with that person. You want to get to know everything about that person because you love them so much. It is the EXACT same thing with GOD.
I challenge you today to take some time out for God today. Get in a place where you can really spend time with Him. And really enjoy your christian journey.
What about you? What ways do you personally develop your relationship God? Have you been trying to work your way into Christianity? Share with us your thoughts in the comments section below.
We will be doing a series soon on Developing Your Relationship with God so please stay tune.
With love and God’s peace to guide you,
* The Christian Atheist, Zondervan Copyright 2010 by Craig Groeschel, pg. 35-36