“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified the there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.” -Galatians 5:24-26 (NLT)
We’re at a point in Christianity where many of us are painting some false portraits of God. Many christians paint God as someone to hug. Someone who will give you a second chance no matter what you do, turning Christianity into the “easy” religion to follow. People can say they’re Christians, go on living life as they did before, ask God to forgive them once a month, and they’re on the fast track to heaven.
The new testament (well, the popular part of it) often paints a picture of Jesus as a man constantly surrounded by children, forgiving the worst of the worst in society, and being full of thumbs-ups, smiles, and hugs. For the most part, this image is true. Jesus is the savior of the lost – the One who will save the outcasts (and love them), and show those far from His purity how to get to a place where that purity can be experienced. He gives the Holy Spirit to the lost, and transforms lives. A similarity between these descriptions of Jesus is this: all the people He redeems are people who have never accepted Him as their savior and redeemer. All the people He criticized in the New Testament were people of the church: mostly the Pharisees – the leaders of the Jewish faith.
The old testament (which I’ve actually heard Christians dismiss as irrelevant since, after all, we now have the NEW testament) shows a different side of God. It shows a jealous God. A vengeful God. A God that expects His people Israel to actually DO what he requires, and to turn from their evil ways. He does often give his people second chances, often times without response, which led to the destruction of His people on multiple occasions.
Now we must realize something: God doesn’t change. The jealous, powerful Old Testament God is the same as the loving, non-judgmental New Testament God. It just so happens that He gave us a much easier way to salvation in the New Testament when He decided to send Jesus down to earth and take what we all deserved. So why, as “Christians,” do so many of us feel we can go about living however WE want when God is just as jealous now as He was when He was destroying Jerusalem in the Old Testament?
Our religion needs to stop seeing ourselves as the “popular” option. We need to start dedicating ourselves to God, above all else, and quit living for God an hour or two every Sunday. We need to start living life for the Holy Spirit. We need to start following when the Holy Spirit leads, and quit saying we’ll do it another day, when it’s easier. All this does is shows God our priorities – and He isn’t on the top. We need to stop living like Jesus is just a friendly pushover, and that it’s all cool, because we repeated after our pastor one Sunday when we were ten.
There is a common theme in the New Testament of redemption and grace. Often times we stop there, without continuing to discover that this grace is often followed by a statement much like that found in Ephesians 2:8-10:
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece . He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:8-10 (NLT)
You’ll never find anywhere that God says He has created us anew so we can go about living as we were living before He came. After showing us such amazing grace, He tells us to go out and do the things HE HAS PLANNED FOR US. Don’t get distracted by the world. Listen to the God of the Universe, and in your fear, EMBRACE YOUR POTENTIAL.