I’ve been trying awful hard to make You proud of me
But it seems
The harder that I try, all the harder it becomes
And I feel like giving up
Most of the time
I’ve been chasing their approval and it’s killin’ me
And I know
The more I try to prove
All the less I have to show
And I’m stuck inside my head
Most of the time
But if I pray a little harder
If I follow all the rules
I wonder, could I ever be enough?
‘Cause I try and try
Just to fall back down again
And I ask myself why
Do I try to chase the wind?
I should lean into the mystery
Maybe hope is found in a melody
So I wanna try again
Oh, I’m gonna try again”– Cory Asbury–Dear God.
In Cory Asbury’s song “Dear God,” he quotes a phrase that I believe Galatians 3 speaks wonders: “But if I pray a little harder if I follow all the rules, I wonder, could I ever be enough?” and isn’t that true of all of us? Where we begin to live as slaves of fear to the Law and not slaves to the fear of an Almighty God?
When I first got saved as a Christian, I was a little girl with big dreams, a vivid imagination, and a blossoming heart. Though I never strayed away from the faith, I do remember times where I caught myself caring more about the Law than a life-giving relationship with Jesus. Without noticing it, I prided on the hours I spent in my Bible, the number of events I hosted, and the repertoire of “good things” I had done that week rather than my intimacy with the Creator.
And if we’re honest, how quickly do we try to turn our relationship with God back into the confines of a Law that He died to become and fulfill?
In Galatians chapter 3, we as humans all too easily fall into the trap that the Galatians did, and I am undoubtedly guilty of this time and time again. I am guilty when I fall into too much order, routine, and structure with the Lord, paying more attention to checkboxes, dotting I’s, and crossing T’s than real intimacy with He who created and formed me (Isaiah 43:1, TPT).
Yes, I am a structured person and find much freedom in that so I can have organized spontaneity, but when that begins to stifle the way you allow Christ to move in your life, you’ve got to get out of the way of yourself!
Often, I don’t know why I fall into these patterns (Romans 7), but I believe we all do at times. We start trying to earn our way into His blessings, do and be good enough to get His rewards and spend enough time with Him to say we talked to God. In the blink of an eye, we attend Church to call ourselves Christians, not realizing that those things aren’t what make up a genuine relationship with our Father.
We’ve forsaken our first love for the counterfeit of what we envision perfection to appear. But Christ died to have intimacy with us, not to make us feel like we have to check boxes.We've forsaken our first love for the counterfeit of what we envision perfection to appear. But Christ died to have intimacy with us, not to make us feel like we have to check boxes. Click To Tweet
As we strive in obedience to follow Christ, it isn’t a magical formula of hours, minutes, and seconds needed to have deeper intimacy with Him. If we serve Jesus and obey Christ, then, of course, we will be following and abiding by His Law because He is the Law. But, this comes by faith and not us trying to earn our way into righteousness with Him.
You see, the truth is, we’re all sinners. Romans 6:23 tells us our wages, what we deserve, is death. We’ve all sinned, fallen short of God’s glory, and can never earn our way into right living with Him (AKA-you can’t host a certain number of events, do enough “good works,” read your Bible X amount of time a week to make the relationship flourish).
My boyfriend, who often struggles with priorities, is a heavy math and science brain that wants the perfect solution, formula, and answer to some of life’s biggest questions. On the other hand, I am an English humanities brain, and as a teacher, I find no greater joy in saying that “there is more than one right answer depending on how you interpret it.”
Although we may see the world differently through the sides of our brain, I find it funny that God placed us together. We completed an Escape Room recently called “The Mad Scientist.” While there were many singular right answers, the combination of our teamwork and flexibility of methods made us the most successful. It was not the “perfect formula” needed to stop the apparent, odorless bomb from destructing, but our communication of the equations required to be solved. Our intimacy with Jesus works similarly in our line of discussion with Him.
Let me make it clear; there is only one way to Heaven (by grace through faith in Christ’s salvation). However, when my boyfriend and I recently discussed our relationship, I couldn’t but help apply it to the lense of this situation:
“All this time, I’ve been looking for a formula to live the perfectly balanced life, and that’s just not right. There is no specific number of hours I can spend with you each week that will make our relationship flourish. I’m learning that life is complicated and that’s okay.”
Friend, there is no specific number of hours you can spend with Jesus each week to make your relationship flourish.
There is no set number of events hosted or volunteered for that will gain you entrance into Heaven.
Nothing you do can or will make Jesus love you more or less than He already does right here, right now.
Jesus, fully God and man, one in three persons, came to fulfill and not abolish the Law, and through this process, He gave us a life without ransom by grace through faith (Ephesian 2:8-9, ESV).
You and I, we couldn’t earn it, deserve it, or reach it then or now, yet He gave it anyway, and we praise Him for that selfless gift of mercy.
If we believe in this gift of free and eternal salvation, that’s faith that saves us. Yet if we believe in a faith that saves, why do we so often go back to thinking our old ways (2 Corinthians 10:5, TPT; Ephesians 4, NLT)? How easily do we forget who God is, all He’s capable of, who we are, and all we need to do to receive it is believe.
It’s uncanny and seems absurd just to believe and receive a gift that radically transforms our entire life. But that’s the beautiful work of grace, and it exists because He gave righteousness as crucifixion that expelled all of our sins.It's uncanny and seems absurd just to believe and receive a gift that radically transforms our entire life. But that's the beautiful work of grace. Click To Tweet
In a sense, it’s not an either-or question of faith or observance of the Law. It’s learning to live in what my boyfriend calls the “and’s” of life. Those moments between the already and not yet that fill our minds with dread are what stretch our faith the most (New Morning Mercies, Paul Tripp).
For faith, it sounds crazy, absolutely absurd.
We work to get money, food, daily necessities, and pleasures of all kinds. We rise early and work late.
Then, we work more to buy, earn, save, and spend again and again until the cycle re-starts.
Those are all parts of life.
But grace? That’s free. Faith? That’s belief without sight (Hebrews 11:1, ESV). Jesus Christ? That’s who became cursed so that while our wages were death, we might be given life if we’d choose to believe in Him (Galatians 3:11-14, TPT).
“For the Scriptures reveal, and it is obvious, that no one achieves the righteousness of God by attempting to keep the Law, for it is written:
“Those who have been made holy will live by faith!” But keeping the Law does not require faith, but self-effort. For the Law teaches, “If you practice the principles of law, you must follow all of them.” Yet, Christ paid the full price to set us free from the curse of the Law. He absorbed it completely as he became a curse in our place. For it is written:
“Everyone who is hung upon a tree is doubly cursed.” Jesus, our Messiah, was cursed in our place and in so doing, dissolved the curse from our lives, so that all the blessings of Abraham can be poured out upon even non-Jewish believers. And now God gives us the promise of the wonderful Holy Spirit who lives within us when we believe in him,” (Galatians 3:11-14, TPT).
Serving Jesus is about honoring Him, not trying to earn His acceptance of us.Serving Jesus is about honoring Him, not trying to earn His acceptance of us. Click To Tweet
He already loves you all He ever will, and He doesn’t love us less on our bad days or compare us to those who’re more or less spiritually mature.
God doesn’t analyze like a drill sergeant with a clipboard to see if you’ve saved 100 people this week, read your Bible one hour a day, or took a Sabbath (though all of those things are good and important!).
He’s more interested in your faith, and through that grace by faith, having a personal relationship and growing intimacy with Him.
For me, sometimes, that means I pray and worship, read my Bible, meditate, dance, or write as the Spirit begins to speak uncontrollably. Yes, spiritual disciplines, like reading and prayer, are essential every day, and I try to abide by that. However, we must be open to the flexibility and leading of the Holy Spirit’s promptings via our relationship with Christ.
If we have that, we will naturally obey the Law, for Christ died not to abolish it, but fulfill it, so we didn’t have to, and that, my friends, is what I call grace (Ephesians 3:15-22, TPT).
Until next time,