One of my greatest struggles is this: believing that if I do certain things, I will be more acceptable to God. I create rules for myself believing that when I finally follow them–actually sticking to my plan for Lent or never telling a white lie again–that only then will I finally be acceptable to God.
All throughout the Bible, God beats down this idea in scripture. Colossians 2 talks of this in verses 16-23 and 3:1-2. Here’s the Message translation:
“So don’t put up with anyone pressuring you in details of diet, worship services, or holy days. All those things are mere shadows cast before what was to come; the substance is Christ.
Don’t tolerate people who try to run your life, ordering you to bow and scrape, insisting that you join their obsession with angels and that you seek out visions. They’re a lot of hot air, that’s all they are. They’re completely out of touch with the source of life, Christ, who puts us together in one piece, whose very breath and blood flow through us. He is the Head, and we are the body. We can grow up healthy in God only as he nourishes us.
So, then, if with Christ you’ve put all that pretentious and infantile religion behind you, why do you let yourselves be bullied by it? ‘Don’t touch this!’ Don’t taste that! Don’t go near this!’ Do you think things that are here today and gone tomorrow are woth that kind of attention? Such things sound impressive if said with a deep enough voice. They even give the illusion of being pious and humble and ascetic. But they’re just another way of showing off, making yourselves look important.
3:1-2 “So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, be alert to what is going on around Christ–that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.”
This is a big passage of scripture, but here is the main idea: Christ is everything. The moment that we take our eyes and attention off of Him, we are no longer serving Him as His followers.
Think about it… every moment that we spend worrying about whether or not we are following all the rules of Christianity, we are just like the pharisees that were angry with Jesus for performing miracles on the Sabbath. They didn’t care that Jesus performed miracles. They were so consumed with following the rules of religion that they didn’t even recognize God Himself in human form, in the form of Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior.
Once your eyes and heart are actively set on Christ, your focus on Him will shape your actions.
Here’s the question to think about….
Are you following the guidelines of religion?
Are you following Christ?