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IMG_0837As I began to wrestle with this new-to-me concept of Christianity, I began to see how Chris’ view of being a Christ-follower made a whole lot more sense biblically. It was the only way I could reconcile both of the Bible’s statements to “Be holy as I am holy” and simultaneously believe that I had been “set free” from the burden of the law. If I choose to allow the Holy Spirit to bring true conviction in my life instead of myself, then I am choosing to trust God instead of putting myself in His position.

Allow me to illustrate this way. I, as a parent, allow my children to live their lives as children every day. Every day they make mistakes, but I, as their parent, know which “mistakes” they are able to actually work on at that time in their life. My two-year continually undresses himself throughout the day, spills his cup, and draws on himself. These are things I correct continually, but with a lot of grace acknowledging that he is only 2 and when he is 3, he will have a much better grasp on these concepts and how to correctly handle them if I am training him gently with grace now. When my 4 year old spills her cup or I find her with a set of markers, I have higher standards. I am addressing different areas of life with her now that she is 4 than when she was 2. But if I were to come to my 6 year old and start talking about all the ways that she wasn’t acting like a 10 year old, I would be overwhelming her and crushing her spirit.

In the same token we, as Christians, cannot take on the role of parenting our own lives. That is God’s job and He is more than capable of doing it without our help.

Shocker! I know!

He knows the areas that we need to work on and He is fully able to bring about the right kind of conviction to help us work on those areas. His manner of teaching is much the same as mine is for my 2 year old…gentle, consistent, and full of grace while still correcting with truth.

How can I know if I’m trying to convict myself or if it’s God’s Spirit leading me?

I’ve found that an easy way to tell the difference between God’s conviction and our own is that God’s conviction never comes with condemning guilt colored with feelings of “never enough”. God’s conviction brings humility by its own definition. God’s conviction brings a change of heart. God’s conviction brings recognition and freedom at the same time. God’s conviction always accompanies with it the way by which to change. On the other hand, our own attempts to bring about good works on our own power are accompanied with burdened guilt, fear, and no real way of knowing how to accomplish our goal.

When I get overwhelmed with all that I “must do” as a Christian, I remind myself that just as God commanded us not to exasperate our children (Eph 6:1), so does He, the perfect parent, does not exasperate us as He leads us in the process of sanctification and becoming more like Him while living here on earth. If we are feeling overwhelmed, it’s not from God!

I started this series based on the verse from Romans 12:2 which says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Being conformed to this world involves setting ourselves up in the place of God. Pride is the root of all sin and every pattern of the world is traced back to an origin of pride where we place ourselves in control instead of God.

Satan’s greatest desire is to keep you from God through salvation, but if He cannot keep you from becoming a Christian, then he will surely attempt to keep you from becoming an effective Christian. If you can think of God as being small enough to actually desire to overwhelm you without giving you the power to accomplish anything, and if Satan can trick you into thinking that Christianity is about all that you “must do”, he will have succeeded in making you ineffective, hypocritical, and quick to judge. An ugly place to be.

But what would happen if we refused Satan’s tricks? What if we chose to believe that God was bigger than us? What if we refused to set ourselves in the place of God by creating our own list of to-do’s? What if we chose to allow our minds to be transformed by God Himself instead of us? What is the beautiful outcome of taking that path according to Romans 12:2? We are able to truly test and discern what the perfect will of God is. Do we lose control in this process? Yes, we do. Do we have to trust the unseen God? Yes, we do. Is it worth it? Yes, it most definitely is!

What will you choose?

Fear, guilt, and a long list of impossible unattainables?

Or freedom, grace, truth, and unending love?

The bottom line is that Jesus + Nothing = Everything!

In the end, Christianity isn’t about conforming ourselves to an impossible pattern…that’s what the world has to offer. Following Jesus is about whole life transformation where He changes us from the inside out.