As a kid, I was raised to love the Lord. I literally remember the exact moment that I prayed with my Dad, asking Jesus into my heart; I was 3. I remember my parents always instilling in me that: loving Jesus and going to heaven wasn’t based on all of the good things that I could do. Yet, I lived my life as if it did.
I seemed to be trapped on a roller coaster of attempting to make myself holy enough to be “right” with God. I’d sin, feel terrible, repent, and then sin again. I’d heard words and phrases like “grace,” “forgiveness,” and “washed white as snow.” Yet still, I scraped on, hoping to one day be perfect enough to be finally “good” with God.
This year, I’ve actually started literally falling in LOVE with scripture, especially the Old Testament. Yes. I realize that that statement alone makes me sound slightly corny and super-Christian. BUT. I’m serious. I started reading from the very beginning with the intent to read The Word as if I were reading them for the first time. And ya’ll. Let me tell you: There is some AMAZING stuff in this bible of ours. The stories in the Old testament are WILD and full of amazing people that actually EXISTED!
As I started reading more of the Old Testament, I realized that the God who I had been trying to impress for nearly my entire life was not who I expected him to be. I began to see that God, at his very CORE is a loving Father. He formed each little speck of the universe with such care and his favorite part of his creation was US. Us silly little humans, he had the audacity to create to look just like himself. What love. And then, we turned away. We took the fruit from the one forbidden tree in an attempt to be God in our own lives, dashing the possibility for intimacy and relationship with him… we did it.
We did it. With our pride and our secret sins. We caused this.
So, the Lord made ways for us to be close with him once again. Because he loved us so dearly, he allowed us to come close to him through sacrifices, rules, and commandments. These rules and commandments showed us the right ways to live in order to remain close to his heart. And for years we entered into the same cycle that I found myself in as a child: Sin, repent, and sin again. Yet, through all of his people’s constant sinning and turning away, God’s character did not change. He called them back to him. Until finally, He sent his son Jesus to pay the sacrifice for the FINAL time so that we wouldn’t have to any longer. This is the moment in which Jesus ended the cycle.
It took me nearly 20 years to realize what the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross ACTUALLY was. It was the END of my constant performance for God. It was the beginning of walking with him in the relationship that I was intended for. I’d dare to say that maybe you are or were a lot like me: on an endless cycle of performance. But, friend, Jesus came to declare war on religion, and he put a nail in the coffin. He came so that you could step off of the endless treadmill of performance-based religion and into step with him. All we have to do is take his hand.