We'll get back to our regularly scheduled fun tomorrow. Today I want to share something that has been on my mind and my heart for the past few weeks. I feel like I'm going out on a limb here because writing a post about decorating or painting something would be so much easier.
I don't think I've made any secret about the fact that I am a Christian. I know that lots of my readers do not share my faith and today's post is directed to you and any Christian who feels inadequate. Well that just might cover everyone, huh?
A few weeks ago I was bee-bopping around blogland and came across a blogger who is a new Christian (although I'm not positive on this point). She was talking about how Christians need to be careful when sharing things that the Lord puts on their hearts. Her concern was that we might be suggesting that the things that the Lord is calling us to work on right now apply to everyone else as well. She said that it can be discouraging for young Christians and alienating for non-Christians if they feel overwhelmed by the "requirements" of being a Christian.
I think she made some good points although I do believe that our blogs are our own to share what we want to share. What readers do with that is their own business. But it got me thinking about the impressions that Christians might give about how you need to be or what you need to do to be a Christian.
Has anyone has ever given you the impression that in order to be a (good) Christian that you need to:
- Act a certain way?
- Talk a certain way?
- Dress a certain way?
- School your children a certain way?
- Only watch certain movies?
- Attend a certain type of church?
- Ditch your non-Christian friends?
If so, that's simply not true. That is the true beauty of the Christian faith. It is not something that we earn by doing certain things. Our salvation is a free gift from our loving Lord. We don't deserve it and we can't earn it.
There is room within the faith for all sorts of folks. Sure, there are some standards that God calls us to. But He doesn't ask us to become someone that we're not. Yes, we'll change as a result of trusting in Jesus. It just can't be helped. But it comes at the prompting of a loving God and because we want to make ourselves and our lives more pleasing to Him.
I clearly remember having a set-back as a young Christian when I attended a women's retreat. One of the speakers was talking about the unimportance of external appearances when compared to the condition of the heart and the spirit. In recent years she had stopped wearing make-up, cut off her hair and dressed in what can only be described as burlap sack. I'm not kidding.
Her point was that it is sinful to take vain pride in our external appearance and I agree with that. But I remember thinking, "If I need to start wearing a burlap shirt, this whole Christian thing isn't going to work out too well for me." It played right into some of the things that kept me away from the Christian faith for many years. I was afraid I was going to have to become someone that I wasn't.
So what's my point in all of this? Just that being a Christian isn't about trying to live up to someone else's idea of what you should do. It isn't about trying to become someone that you're not. It's about realizing that you are a sinner, recognizing that Jesus died to pay for your sins and accepting God's free gift of salvation. The rest can be worked out between you and God.
"For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast"