For a long time, I believed a lie which is threatening the very heartbeat of the Church. It sneaks in like a slow poison and its symptoms are often loss of joy, endless business and little time for meaningful relationships. It doesn’t announce itself with brazen warning signs or even seem evident in the sanctuary on Sunday morning. But it’s there, and it’s endangering the gospel message Christ was crucified to bring to the lost and weary. It pollutes the hope of our Redeemer and plants the seed of doubt. It says we can never do enough, be enough or work enough. Our salvation is not free, but is bought with a price.
It’s the message of striving.
Most of the time it’s presented with splashes of so-called grace along with it, but at the core it’s the same. Because grace cannot be watered down. The gospel doesn’t say it is by grace plus works that you are saved through faith. No, God doesn’t need us, but through his love he chooses to use us.
Romans 11:6 “And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”
The message of striving says, “God’s grace saves you, but you must also do this.” It whispers, “If you were really a Christian and a good church attendee, you would serve on this committee.” I know the voice because I listened to it many years ago. I went on an endless chase for God, not realizing He was right beside me all along. I strived and I compared. I looked at other’s lives and works, measuring mine against theirs because after all, I wanted to please God, right? But does a depleted vessel honour God? Does someone who is bone-dry and weary communicate a message of hope and glory?
God gave me His Spirit to bring wisdom, peace and discernment, not a slavery of endless striving.
It is for freedom that he set us free.
He says for the heavy-laden to come and lay their burdens down, and yet often we pick up more than we can handle instead. We think if we stop to rest, everything will fall apart. Because if we don’t do it, who will? It is a blow to our pride to realize the God of the universe is perfectly capable of keeping the earth spinning on its axis without our help. But it is also a huge relief. He chooses to use you and has beautiful plans for your life, not because he needs you, but because He loves you enough to include you in the grand tapestry He is weaving. His plans are for good and abundance, not anxiety and an over-crammed schedule.
Grace is no longer amazing if we add anything to it.
Will the Spirit of Christ in us produce fruit? Yes, absolutely. But even the fruitful branches are pruned by a loving God. (John 15:2) He takes away the excess so we can put more energy into what He gives us. Abide in Him, friends. Listen to his voice. Ask yourself, “Am I doing this to please others more than please God? Do I have the resources to complete this task, or will it deplete me physically, emotionally and spiritually?”
He came so we may have life. A life which is full, abundant and radiant.
Let’s leave the rat race to the rats.
Let’s stop striving for His love and start abiding in His grace.