I had just invited him to church. He declined my offer. “Why?” I asked.
He looked at me seriously and stated his response, “Because I would get back here [school] and act the same way.”
I don’t know about you, but this statement intrigues me. Do we live in a world where people believe they must have a “perfect” life after one church service? Because if so, I was disqualified a long time ago!
I tried to sympathize, telling him that he wasn’t going to get better overnight. And then, I spoke the words upon which this column is focused.
In a desperate response, I said something along the lines of, “I don’t want you to think that’s what it’s about.”
Getting your life together is not what matters.
You say, “Isn’t that what Christianity is all about? Aren’t Christians just a group of saints who rarely sin? It seems as if their buttons are always fastened and their shoes always laced—in other words, isn’t Christianity about having one’s life together?”
If this thing called Christianity is about the change I create, I’m out. If this thing called Christianity is about living a perfect life, I’m out. And to be honest, if I was in that young man’s shoes with that perspective, I would have said “no” too.
So if creating a more perfect life isn’t what matters, what does?
“In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us” (Colossians 3:11).
Jesus Christ—the risen Son of God—is all that matters!
If that’s the case, where does life change come into play?
Same answer! Jesus creates the change that so many admire.
But you see, like the young man I invited to church, many people look at themselves to change. As a result, they carry around an insurmountable burden—the burden called insufficiency. They say things like, “I could never be good enough. I’ve tried to change before, and I can’t pull it off. Besides, no church would ever let me enter the doors. Christianity just isn’t for me.”
You know what, if that’s what you’ve been thinking, forget everything. Forget doctrine. Forget religion. Forget church attendance. Just don’t forget the one who matters—Jesus.
“For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
It’s not that those things have no importance. It’s just that compared to Jesus Christ, they are nothing.
“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith” (Philippians 3:8-9).
Jesus. He really is all that matters. But wait, there’s one last thing I want to say.
A total of 7.3 billion people are currently living this thing called life. Each is struggling in his own, unique way. All of them are imperfect—flawed, broken, and hurting. But despite such a large number of desperate souls, Jesus loves each one personally. That’s right, personally. He wants to have a close relationship with you.
As you come to the end of this column, perhaps you feel convicted. Maybe you realize for the first time that Jesus truly loves you unconditionally. Maybe you realize that it’s not about you—your performance, efforts, or successes. Maybe you’re starting to believe that Jesus is enough for you.
If that’s so, I pray that you would give your life to Him. You’re not giving your life to religion. You’re not giving your life to church attendance. You’re not giving your life to self-sufficiency. You’re giving it to Jesus. And then watch as the only one who matters changes you one step at a time.
Isaiah Pauley is a junior at Wahama High School. His blogs and videos can be found at www.crosswordsblog.weebly.com