How do you know you are doing something the right way?
Do you gauge how you are doing by everyone else around you? Or maybe you look at how you’ve done it for years to judge how you set your status quo.
You grow up in a certain family that has certain family dynamics and ways of doing things. They teach you what is right and wrong. You see how to follow God (or how not to), how to respond to life’s challenges and how to relate to people. Your parents show you what it means to be a follower of Jesus. This is added to by your community, friends, and leaders throughout your life.
You have in your head the formula of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
A + B = C
Reading the Bible/spending time with God + Doing good things = being a Christian or being close to Jesus.
What if there are certain things you learned that God wants you to unlearn? What if A + B doesn’t equal C.
Certainly there are things we have learned along the way that have developed our relationship with the Lord or taught us necessary things that have grown and shaped our relationship with God. However, sometimes those things that were meant to happen only for a season become the norm or “law” that governs the rest of our lives.
You hear from your church and leaders that to grow strong in your relationship with God you “have” to do A, B and C or you will never get there.
Because you want to “get there” you do said instructions – spending time with God daily, reading your bible, tithing, giving to the needy, living a “Godly” life. You learn that just because you aren’t “feeling it” doesn’t mean you get to just not be responsible or stop doing what is right. You learn discipline and it becomes a foundational principle for your life.
You feel good about your accomplishments of good things you do to follow Jesus. You get comfortable with how you do said things.
Those things we were taught of how to know God and living a good life can become our religion instead of falling more and more in love with Jesus. We need structure in our lives, but that structure is not the end all be all of our faith in God.
Have you checked in with God recently to see how you’re doing? He might have a different viewpoint than you do about where you stand with him and the condition of your life and heart.
Maybe when you spend time with God lately you wonder why it’s so hard to focus and get into it. You start not wanting to get up in the morning to have your Jesus time.
What happened to that passion? Why can’t I get my heart to fall in line with what I’m “supposed to be doing”?
If this resonates with you, you might be getting caught up in a “Religious Spirit”.
Religion tells us that we have to do certain things to be saved, or continue to be saved. Religion reinforces the false belief that you have to follow the pre-prescribed formula for following Jesus to be a successful Christ-follower. If you don’t do these things you are a failure and end up feeling guilty or shameful for not being able to measure up.
Religion is not discipline.
Discipline can be described as a backbone – it is the underlying strength we need in our lives when the going gets tough and all you want to do is throw in the towel. It says, “No, I will continue to be faithful even when I don’t feel like it because Jesus is worth it.”
Religion is putting law where there doesn’t need to be law. It means doing things out of fear and obligation because you don’t want to fail or mess up. It says, “I have to do ___________ to be a successful Christian or I am going to sin or God isn’t going to be pleased with me.” That is conditional love my friends and it is contrary to the heart of God.
Discipline is necessary to grow as a human and a believer – we have to learn it’s not all about us and our comfort. Hard circumstances come our way and we have to make the choice to follow Jesus and believe his truth and cling to him even when we don’t feel like it. It makes us stronger and makes our roots go deep in God making it so we don’t fall over in the face of storms in this life.
If we base our lives solely on discipline though, we can fall into religion. We can get used to the mindset of needing to do things because you aren’t “feeling it”. Then those things that were good for us in a specific season, become stumbling blocks in our walk with God.
Not every season is meant to build discipline in you.
There comes a time in your walk when God wants to be adventurous with you. He wants to take you to new places with him and show you new things about him. He wants to make you come alive with new purpose and passion.
We can douse the flame of his newness by clinging to old habits.
In other words, we stay in the familiar because it’s safe and predictable rather than stepping out in faith because there is a chance you might fall and get hurt.
God is initiating change and newness in our lives right now. If we cling to the old way of doing things however, we will miss the fresh move of the Holy Spirit.
We have gotten into the wrong mindset of there is a wrong and a right choice in our decisions in life. We get locked up in fear of making the wrong choice and end up not making any choices at all.
What if there is a good, better, best way of making choices with God instead of a right vs wrong? What if you aren’t about to fall off a cliff if you make a “wrong choice”? What if God wants you to start praying, “God, what is your best for me? Which option is going to lead to your best?” When that happens our mindset shifts from thinking God is going to be mad at us if we happen to make the wrong decision to knowing our belovedness in him.
Instead of this small little yard you have been fenced into, you have a wide open field for adventuring with God in. You don’t have to constantly be afraid of making a mistake because you know how beloved you are and get to focus instead on making good, better, or best choices.
Knowing how loved and accepted you are is key to moving forward and deeper with God. Unless you know how he unconditionally loves you, the “I will say this as many times as you need to hear it because I’m in it for the long haul,” kind of love, you will fail to miss the times he wants you to step out in faith. We can only jump out in faith in God’s waiting arms into the unknown if we trust him.
Trusting God comes from knowing your rightful place and where you stand with him. This is called identity and when we know who we are in God, he can take us to any place he wants because we are secure in his love and trust his leadership because of said love.
You are loved, accepted, beautiful, full of purpose, made in God’s image, heirs of God, gifted and anointed – END OF STORY. Anything contrary to God’s truth that you are believing about yourself is a lie and holding you back. Make the choice today to take every thought captive to God’s truth. You don’t have to live out of a place of victim-hood or unsure of your value – you don’t have to take things personally or be afraid to be you because of what other people might think. You are loved and cherished and it’s time to start living that way.
What are the ways God is calling you deeper and higher? What is he stirring in your heart?
How can you say “yes” to God today? Because he is calling you to deeper places and it looks like following where he leads even when it doesn’t make sense.