I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that one of my purposes in life is to share my unique perspective on a relationship with Christ. Growing up in church, in fact as a pastor’s kid, I saw a lot… I heard a lot… I gleaned a lot from other church-goers. Some of those things were good. Some of those things… well, not so good.
For lack of a better way to explain it, I’ve gone through several “phases” when it comes to my relationship with Christ. I was a hard-core, Bible thumping Christian in my high school and college days. I was a searching, sometimes-attender in my early twenties. I was an outright FLAKE of a sinner in my mid to late twenties. And then I was a humbled, hurting sinner who was afraid to get re-involved in church. When I finally went back to church, I sat in the back row and avoided eye contact with people who tried to interact with me. I wanted to hide. But I knew I needed to be there.
That feels like a lifetime ago.
Phenomenal personal and spiritual growth has come about for me since then… courage, wisdom, gratitude, repentance… but mostly love and forgiveness (for myself and others).
A few weeks ago at church the following words were shared… and they struck a chord that rang so loudly. I went back and listed to the sermon audio because I wanted to write this down. Today I share it with you.
Many religious people think their goodness should be celebrated.
God doesn’t celebrate our goodness. He celebrates our repentance.
Being religious, going to church, being a part of a small group, reading your Bible are all good things… but NONE of them will EARN you Heaven.
There will be no celebration for trying to be good, for trying to earn Heaven by your good works.
It is only through repentance… it is only through bending your knee to Jesus, turning from your sins and turning to Him can anyone enter the Kingdom of God… can anyone receive this free gift of forgiveness.
God rejoices when sinners repent.
– Steve Bruecker
As I alluded to there was a time when I had turned away from the institution of church for quite some time. You see, at that point of my life I was of the mindset that God DID celebrate our goodness… and I walked away because I was deeply saddened to learn that people weren’t repentant or worthy of God’s celebration.
Looking back on that now, I know it was highly “religious” of me to think this of God or others. It was highly hypocritical of me to think this is how God operated. My attitude towards grace was highly toxic. It was misguided.
Years later I will admit there have been times when I have fallen back into this mindset from time to time. Thank goodness our Heavenly Father has offered grace. Thank goodness… God rejoices when I respond to His gently nudging … and I realize the error of my ways and repent. He rejoices. Each time. Each time I repent He rejoices.