It occurred to me that maybe some of you don’t know why I am a Christian. Some of you may not even know all that much about Christianity or why I would choose to get up early on a Sunday and spend 2 hours sitting in a pew. So rather than just jumping in to more things I suck at I thought I would backup and talk about how I got here.
As most of you know, my dad is an Anglican Priest so I basically grew up at the church. I was homeschooled until High School so almost all of my friends were from church, I would go to an adults bible study led by my dad (He would talk for 30 minutes and then we would have lunch. I never understood how this excruciatingly long talk could be the same length of time as an episode of Mr. Dressup. The laws of physics just didn’t seem to apply here), and almost all of my family’s social circle was made up of people from the church.
When I was five, a man from my church (who I called Uncle Lockett) spoke with the Sunday School about asking Jesus into our hearts. I am so thankful for him so lovingly shepherding us children because that afternoon I knelt down on the landing of the stairs in the rectory where we lived and asked Jesus into my heart. I was saved that day, even though my five year old brain didn’t fully understand how awesome that would turn out to be. And between that and my baptism, the Lord set me up early to be His, even though years would pass before I ever really surrendered.
Now, here is where I am going to yada yada yada my way through my testimony. At least for now. I could go in to all the details of my life where I strayed from the Lord, where I wasn’t living a Christian life but claimed to be a follower, where I acted like I was holy when I was wholly broken. Maybe I will write about that some day, but for right now, I want to focus on the good stuff. The time in my life when I couldn’t ignore what was right in front of my face anymore.
When I had my first baby, I started going to the women’s bible study at my church. This group of women are a constant source of knowledge and strength for me. It was here that my thirst for the word of God really started developing. I met women who were willing to be vulnerable, to admit mistakes and shortcomings, knowing that they will still be loved and accepted by one another and, more importantly, by the God we serve.
Because the thing that got me about Christianity, about Christ himself, wasn’t the music, or the sermons, or a feeling of holiness (because I have legit never felt holy). It was mercy. For the first time in my Christian walk I was experiencing real, true mercy being lived out. I found a space with other believers, believers who I wanted to be more like, where I was accepted for who I was, with all of my flaws. Not only accepted, but then also challenged to become a better version of myself. To no longer live in shame or bondage, but to experience freedom. The kind of freedom that can only come from a God who tells us that despite our many, (many, many, many, many, many, many, many) short comings, He still loves us. He still died for us. He still shows us mercy. Paul told the Romans,
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5:6-8 NIV
When I spend too much time focused on the world and what it has to offer, I can get so discouraged. No one shows mercy. There is no grace. If you do something wrong, no one is there to tell you you are still valuable, you are still loved. There are, in this day and age, millions of people out there willing to tear you apart. That makes me scared for my children. Mistakes aren’t allowed any more. You have to be 100% perfect, 100% of the time.
Except with Jesus. Because he came to save us at our worst. He accepts and redeems the people who have done deplorable things. Because he sees what the world doesn’t see. He sees our goodness. All of our goodness. No matter who we are, or what we have done. He still sees the heart and wants it to be turned to him. To walk in freedom knowing that we are not defined by our shortcomings and transgressions.
This is the freedom that I want to walk in for the rest of my life. This is the freedom I want for my children. That there is grace still out there. That we are not forever held in bondage because of our mistakes and poor choices. And this is the freedom that I want for all of you. That you know that you were fearfully and wonderfully made. That who you are, just as you are, is dearly loved by the creator of all things. That you, just as you are, hold immeasurable value. And that knowing and clinging to the word of the Lord, will bring you more freedom and purpose than you could ever imagine.
In a world where truth is subjective, and love is only love if you agree with it, remember: God is love.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.John 3:16-17 NIV my emphasis added
The gospel of the Lord is not one of condemnation, but of freedom. Yes, following Jesus means we no longer follow the world. But if the world only offers us pain and cruelty, why would we want to follow it, when Jesus wants to offer us freedom and mercy?
Look, I’m not telling you how to live your life (the Bible literally does that), but I am encouraging you to find freedom. Because you are worth it, just as you are right now. And you are worth it, because He is worthy.