Thursday, October 27, 2011

You can't earn it, so appreciate it

Confession: I know it has been a month since my last post but as this blog will show I have been dealing and pondering a lot lately. I will continue to write more and more blogs, but this one sits special in my heart as it comes from some of the wounds and healing of my heart. Hope you enjoy!

Growing up as a young man in life, one lesson that tends to often repeat itself in my talks with the older generation is that you earn everything you receive. For the longest time I would nod along and say "Hmmmm that's good stuff", but now something that I have been learning in my life is causing me to question this statement. It is a good reminder to work hard and never take anything for granted and has oftentimes charged me onward in times of laziness. My only struggle with this comes when we try to stretch this philosophy into our faith and relationship with God.

Christianity focuses so much on the blessings when we are in Christ which we have received: Eternal Life, a relationship with God, Conquerors of Sin.... etc. So if I am receiving so much now that Christ is the ruler of my life (and trust me I am!) the question is what did I do to earn this? Or even if I want these blessings to continue I better be good and work hard to earn them. This passes on down into if I want God to love me, I have to earn it by _______. (You can insert whatever it may be in the blank)

This has been the scary downward spiral I had been caught into over the past month, I was caught in as my friends and I call it "the pursuit of perfection". If you don't understand what I am talking about please let me explain very briefly. I had been ensnared into the lie that because I had received God's love I better earn it. Almost defaulting back to my basketball playing days in the sense that when I received my starting position my senior year I played and practiced every day as hard as I could to earn it. I felt like each day that I had to be perfect to keep God's love. I knew that Christ died for me, but I thought because he did that I needed to be perfect. However, I am a human so of course I would sin. The big problem is that when I would sin I would beat myself up and be ashamed of myself. I would get in this cycle where I was only happy when I was  in my idiotic eyes "perfect" and the moment I would sin I would battle this shame and feel down.

At this moment I was down for the count, I knew that until Christ perfects me one day in Heaven that I am going to sin here on Earth so what can I do? I was tired of the shame, fear, and perfection seeking faith. I knew that Christianity was so much more than this, and that this dangerous cycle couldn't be the right way! So finally I sought help from my Brothers! What they said and what I read and for the first time internalized is changing my life, I would like to share it now with you!

(Side Note: If you don't have friends that you can bring your struggles and weaknesses to, real Brothers and Sisters that will stand alongside when you are facing attacks, real men and women who won't turn their backs on you and won't give up on you, who love you to much to see you continue to wade in sin; If you don't have some friends like this you are missing out on one of God's GREATEST blessings!)

God's love for us is perfect! It is unconditional, which means that there is nothing we can do to make Him love us less or make Him love us more. When we are in Christ there is no condemnation! Christ came and shed his blood so that by his blood we would be washed white as snow! Christ loves us so much that while we were still sinners he died for us! He came and died for EVERYONE! Not just the good-two shoes!

Finally in the midst of this talk with my brothers and my own searching through the scriptures God yelled at me. He said "Dustin you fool, you don't have to earn my love! I Love You! I love you now, I loved you yesterday, I will love you tomorrow, I loved you when you lied to your friend, I loved you when you accepted my son as your savior, I am consistent and will never stop loving you! There is nothing that can separate you from my love! There is no life, no death, no angel, no demon, no height, and no depth that could ever separate my love from you! You don't have to earn my love, so simply appreciate it!

"You don't have to earn my love, so simply appreciate it!" We as Christians don't need to be perfect to earn God's love, we simply need to live our lives in gratitude of it! Out of that gratitude, our obedience to Christ should flow!