“And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.” Ephesians 2:16
I went to church every time its doors were open, I looked for ways to serve others, I tried to encourage those who needed it, disciple younger girls, and so much more! These are good things, but only if you are doing them for the glory of God. None of that was for Him, which means it is counted as wood, hay, and stubble. I was a good kid, and that’s how everyone saw me. I was doing all these good things, but ignoring the One who had made it all possible, the One who had made the way so that I could be reconciled to Himself. I wanted to be a good Christian and I sure didn’t want to be one of those statistics of young people that went off the “deep end”, whatever that means. But, I was just as distant from God as they were, if not more. My life revolved around how I looked on the outside, and avoiding things that would definitely ruin my “good” reputation. Obviously Ephesians 2:9 “Not of works, lest any man should boast” didn’t mean much to me.
So I put on the mask of the “good Christian girl” (whatever that is), while on the inside I was struggling to stay above water. I was being bogged down by the enemies’ lies. He continually told me that I wasn’t good enough, and that I would never measure up. My time with the Lord was non-existent and my reliance upon Him was low. I didn’t trust Him, because I had “tried that” and it didn’t work. So I continued to fight in my own strength, and I was fighting hard. My pride just continued to get higher and higher; every time I turned around someone was praising me for something that I had done. Well that made me feel good for a moment, but was it satisfying? No. Then little by little I began looking to people for ALL of my approval, identity, and worth. I was working SO hard and yet it was not satisfying the deep hunger in my soul.
I asked, “Lord, what do you want me to do with my life?” He said, “You don’t even know me, because you are too worried about serving me and showing the world what a good Christian you are, and you don’t care the least thing about me”. I mean, this was not just like a Martha who wants to serve Jesus. No, it was all about me and how I could make a good name for myself. I was bound up by selfishness and clothed in a self-righteous attitude. Yet I was so discouraged and ready to give up on everything. But then, my life was transformed by a verse Galatians 1:10:
“. . . do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”
Then the question came up, was I going to live my life to please the Lord or men?
One Sunday evening, I was singing the song “Without the cross” for church, it was for those who were “unsaved,” or so I thought. Well, halfway through the song I broke down crying (talk about embarrassing) don’t ask me where my saving mask was at that point but praise the Lord it was gone. I wouldn’t change how it all happened in any other way. Because it was then and there, the Lord showed me that without the cross, I would be lost and I wouldn’t know of the redeeming love of our Savior who shed His blood on Calvary for us. It was then and there that the cross became real to me, and Oh! how He began to change me from the inside out! A joy and peace flooded my soul! He restored my relationship with Him and as His peace flew over me. I knew it was nothing I had done, it was His precious blood that brought me to reconciliation with Him. How could I have ever tried living the Christian life without Him?
Friends, He is the Christian life and we have nothing to glory in, except Christ and the cross where He shed His precious blood!
“God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Galatians 6:14
It is only because of His love and grace, demonstrated by the cross, that we as Gentiles can be part of the body of Christ. The Christian life is not about doing good things to earn this reconciliation or pat ourselves on the back; but it is humbly bowing before the One who saved us by grace and giving Him the honor and the glory that He deserves. He is worthy of our praise! I continually stand amazed at His mercy and love. So many times I get upset when others take credit for something that I did, but what about God? Are we really giving Him the credit He deserves or are we taking it for ourselves? We owe Him credit for everything; sit at His feet and give him the credit that is due Him.
Our life with Christ is not a performance, but a relationship! He has made the way for us, He has valiantly fought the fight and slain the one who hates us! We can have peace as we rest and trust in Him because of His work on the cross!
Praise the Lord for His love that never lets us go!
– Sarah J.