I grew up believing in God, because it’s what I was supposed to do. I grew up going to children’s church, and reading Bible stories, and singing hymns. I wore pretty dresses and I loved going to Bible school. I knew Jesus was born on Christmas and we celebrated His death and Resurrection on Easter. I knew Eve ate the apple, Cain killed Abel, I knew Noah built the Ark, and I knew Joshua fought the battle of Jericho (and the walls came tumbling down). I could tell you that Moses parted the Red Sea and I had the Passover episode of Rugrats on VHS. I knew church happened on Sunday and Wednesday. And I participated in my fair share of Christmas plays.
But I also believed being a Christian was a list of things you could and couldn’t do. And if I listened to country music I was going to Hell. (I remember that sermon quite vividly) And if I prayed for myself, I was being selfish.
In other words, I didn’t grow up with a good understanding of what a Christian is.
And if I’m honest, I was well into my adulthood before I truly grasped the meaning. And if I’m 100% transparent with you right now, I still struggle.
My misconceptions about faith caused me to feel unworthy in a church pew; like a fraud among a congregation of do-gooders and biblical scholars. More often than not, I felt unworthy because I didn’t fit into this box of Christians.
But that’s the problem, isn’t it?
We tend to put God in a box.
Though it’s never spoken that you have to check items off a list to be considered a Christian, it’s certainly insinuated.
- Read your Bible.. Only the King James Version will do. (Sorry if you can’t understand it.)
- If the doors are open, go to church.
- If (cough, cough.. when) you sin, don’t talk about it.
- Always believe that God is good… unless you take a sip of beer and he casts you into the depths of Hades.
I’m kinda kidding on that last part, but you know what I’m saying.
We have grown up hearing that we are never allowed to step out of line and if you do it is shameful and it must never be spoken of. Hide your indiscretions at all costs. Mistakes are not okay, ever. Don’t let anyone see the dirt on your pretty little Christian face.
What we didn’t grow up hearing is that we because live in the flesh, we are going to be tempted at every turn to sin… That every day we will encounter the enemy trying to destroy us, that the enemy will use his most cunning and clever tactics to ruin God’s perfect plan for our lives.
And if we’re not talking about that, we’re not talking about how to handle those instances. And we’re certainly not talking about the grace that we’ve been given through Christ. So in turn, people have left the church… because who wants to serve a God who only wants squeaky clean pew sitters?
Don’t get me wrong, sin is never okay and grace doesn’t give us the option to just sin freely, BUT what we’ve been missing is, we serve a God who loves us and is ready to meet us where we are.
So many people (myself included) have believed that we have to get our lives right before we try to know Jesus… but sweet friends, I have learned something.
Jesus is not scared of our messes.
If our God loves us enough to send His son to die for our sins, don’t you think He loves us enough to accept us while we’re broken?
And if our God is gracious enough to meet us when we’re broken, addicted, ashamed, etc…. shouldn’t we, as His people, be willing to do the same for others?
Peter is one of my favorite people in the Bible. We meet Peter as a fisherman who literally dropped what he was doing to follow Jesus. And while his blind faith alone is inspiring, it’s the portrait of how real Peter was that makes him so relate-able. In Matthew 14, we read about the miracle of Jesus walking on water.
You’ve heard it before, whether you’re a believer or not.
But what we so often overlook, is Peter’s role. Matthew 14:28 tells us that Peter asked Jesus to prove His identity by allowing him to walk on water, but just a mere two verses later, we witness Peter’s faith wavering as he encounters winds and he begins to sink…
But instead of punishing his moment of weakness, Jesus was there to take his hand and lead him back to the boat.
Isn’t that us? We ask God to let us walk with him and we proclaim our faith, but when get things get “windy” we tend to retreat… if even for a second.
Peter is just one example of the love of Christ. He shows us that God can use us and love us, even when our faith wavers. Our God is always there to catch us. He’s always there to meet us and put us back in the boat.
Shouldn’t we do that too? Meet people where they are instead of beating our chests and waving our mighty biblical knowledge in their face? Shouldn’t we speak truth and love into people instead of picking and choosing the nuggets of scripture that fit our agenda?
I could write for days on this, because I have been blessed with friends and mentors who’ve met me where I was at, taken my hand, and lovingly led me back to the boat just as Jesus does.
I’ve learned God will send you people from all walks of life to pour into you, show you grace, and love you where you are. We just have to recognize them and in turn, extend the same grace to others.
After all, His greatest commandment was to love… though the Bible never mentioned deciding who was worth it.
I still struggle everyday to wrap my mind around this thing called faith. I still get discouraged and ask why. I’ve prayed angry, desperate prayers. Some days I don’t even want to recognize God’s supernatural greatness, because it’s my first instinct to throw a pity party and stew in my toxic thoughts.
But then I am reminded that those thoughts and feelings of doubt, shame, unworthiness, guilt, loneliness, inadequacy… Those are tactics of the enemy because he wants to steal our joy. When those thoughts start creeping in, we just have to remember God’s promises.
You’re worth it.
I’m worth it.
It’s time we start living that way.