As January comes to a close, I want to give a shout out to all those sticking strong to their new year resolutions. Awhile back, I posted a video about “Something New for 30 Days.” If you haven’t watched it at this point, I highly encourage you take the time to check it out. Point being, if you have maintained your motivation this long, chances are your changes will start to become habits in your daily life. According to the video I posted, it takes approximately 30 days to change or start a new habit. So keep it up my friends! The new year is still fresh, but it’s never too late to change. 🙂
Speaking of resolutions, I, too, have been trying to keep myself motivated and instill better daily habits in terms of work, homework, working out, my relationships, and more importantly, my faith. Yes, I admit, I have allowed my faith to fall to the wayside, and I have not invested the time necessary to grow more in God. In that, I am truly ashamed. As I look back, I have made nothing but excuses about being detached from God, and quite frankly my selfishness is distastefully unsettling. Going into the new year, I wanted to dedicate this year to the year that I grew closer to God and His love. Not only that, but I wanted to listen more intently to His plan for my life, and better educate and reflect on my beliefs as a Christian.
Often times, life gets the best of us. Our faith seems to melt away bit by bit with every annoying phone call, lengthy email, angry driver, rude teller, and other frustrating inconveniences. I know you understand what I mean; the grace of God can easily be forgotten when your here and now isn’t so convenient or pleasant. (If you don’t understand what I mean, then it’s safe to say you’re inhuman.) Regardless, it’s okay to lose sight of your faith or set of beliefs. If your beliefs weren’t ever challenged, then they’d stand for nothing, right?!
In sticking with my resolution, I started attending church with a good friend of mine. I have always used the excuse that Sundays are my homework days or days to sleep in. Better yet, I used to not go to church because I assumed all churches had this stigma that if you didn’t go every Sunday, become a member, join a Bible study, and etc. that you weren’t really wanted. Well, my friends, I am wrong. Granted, I know church isn’t for every believer, but trust me when I say there is a faith community out there for you somewhere. In the few weeks I have been attending Midtown Fellowship, my heart has changed. My perspective on church, my faith, my beliefs, and my intentions has completely transitioned. The best way I can describe it… On Sundays, I used to drag myself out of bed to try and make it to church just to get sidetracked and never really go. Since attending Midtown and gaining this new perspective, I cannot wait for Sundays to get here. Going to church has become something I need more than something I want. And that is a matter of the heart I pray happens to everyone.
(This post is somewhat of a tangent and I apologize. I hope you can take insight from it without feeling like I am completely wasting your time.)
The perspective that changed my heart is as follows:
Your actions do not merit God’s praise and love for you. In the book of Galatians, Paul goes to the churches of Galatia and shares with them the gospel from Jesus Christ himself. He says to them that the gospel is truth, and they need to rid of the teachings before them. In the gospel that Paul shares with the churches of Galatia, he says that God’s grace has already been given to us through Christ Jesus. The rules set out by the churches for its believers does not deem them closer or more in love with God. Meaning, we already embody the grace of God because Jesus was crucified for our sins. Matter of fact, God is insulted by those whom think superior of themselves because they follow a set of rules set by their church organization. And if they follow those rules, they are somehow closer to God or God somehow loves them more. Paul preaches that it doesn’t matter how “good” you do, you receive no more love from God than the man that “sins.”
The pastor at Midtown couldn’t have delivered this sermon more to me than if he stepped off the stage and stood right in front of me. My entire life has been consumed with being the best, doing the best, accomplishing the most, and so forth. Through my “good” actions, I was under the falsehood that I was earning more of my parents’ love, my friends’ love, my neighbors’ love, and God’s love. When this entire time, I have been the one living in sin. I have been the one insulting God, and falsely perceiving his grace and unconditional love. Matters of my heart have been with false intention. I haven’t been doing “good” because I wanted to, I have been doing “good” because I was trying to prove something. Sitting in church and hearing the pastor share with us that God loves us unconditionally completely changed my world. God doesn’t love us because we do more or do less, He loves us for us. Before we were even brought into this world, God already blessed us with his grace through Jesus. Jesus died for us so that we could live in peace with our sin and repent, and the beauty of our God is that He is forgiving even when we don’t ask to be forgiven. And when we live through grace, we don’t do things because we are trying to “prove” something, we do it because that’s what our heart tells us to do- it’s what God is calling us to do.
With that, I share with you a few quotes from the sermon:
“God’s smile to us is not based on our performance; it’s based on Jesus’ performance.”
“Don’t compare other’s weaknesses to your strength’s to build your spiritual resume.”
“If it’s grace, then it’s the giver that gets the glory.”
“God set in motion the plan to save you before you even existed. God saved you by grace and keeps you by grace.”
“The law cannot motivate you to act from your heart. God motivates us by His grace not the rules.”