“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” – Romans 8:1-2
I have this burden. I have this burden that I try to carry to try to prove to myself that I really try to do my best. I try.
But I am learning how very weak I am. And I am learning how it actually is dangerous to try to carry the weight of the world on my own. It’s foolish.
Because I can never meet up to the standards God requires. You can’t. None of us can.
When you think of religion, you probably think of a life of ritual–mechanically uttering certain prayers at certain times, caring for the weak out of mere obligation, performing various righteous duties and so forth.
What is this idol we have constructed?
It saddens me to think of how many people are trapped in an endless cycle of duty. Religion is damaging. Hurtful. Dangerous. I say this because so often it looks like a good thing from the outside, but on the inside it is a burden of stones that people make efforts to carry in order to feel they are a “good” person.
The thing is, doing the right things doesn’t necessarily mean our heart is good enough for heaven.
God can see past our actions and deep into the hidden places of our hearts. The Bible is clear that no one who tries to reach heaven with good deeds will succeed.
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” – Isaiah 64:6
We need to recognize how religion can be a trap that myselfthose with the best intentions can fall into. Nothing we can do can make us any better of a person. Sin always clings to us in one form or another.
So then how do we follow Jesus? Doesn’t Jesus say, “If you love Me, keep my commands” ? (John 14:15)
Yes, He does. But too many people, like myself, take this verse and think, “Oh, so I just need to obey His commands to prove that I love Him.”
But how can I prove anything to God, who knows the deepest, most secret parts about me? We can’t. I am realizing how futile it is to “muster” up love for our wonderful Savior. God sees right past that. We need to look at this verse differently.
We are NOT to obey His commands to somehow prove that we love Him. Instead, the commands come naturally when we truly, genuinely love Jesus.
And what reason do we have to love Him? 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.”
It’s that simple. We love because He first loved us, not because we are trying to get people to like us, not because we are trying to convert people, not because we are trying to prove that we are saved.
Once we truly experience the unconditional love of God, we are never the same again. When His love resides in us, it flows naturally out towards other people. God’s love is so deep, reaching hearts with the truest care and thoughtfulness, without any ulterior motives.
God’s love is something that we can completely, totally, and absolutely rest in.
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:16-19
We obey God’s commands because we love Him, and we love Him, because He first loved us. It’s all because of Jesus that we have any hope. It’s all because of Him that we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. It’s all through Him that His joy can be our strength. And it’s through Him that we inherit eternal life.
We need to spend our whole lives focusing on that one word: love. Because once we fall in love with Jesus, the rest will follow, without us vainly striving for perfection.
Religion is nothing compared to the love of God.
It is nothing compared to the everlasting relationship we can have with Him because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. It is nothing compared to the rest our souls can experience when we lay all of our burdens at Jesus’ feet, and let Him love people through us. (Gal. 2:20) After all, loving God and loving others are the greatest commandments! (Matthew 22:37) And this is what we are called to do when we walk in the joyous freedom of God’s love.
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” – Galatians 5:13 ESV
Today, and every day, I want to recognize my need for Jesus to carry my burdens. There is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Once you confess your sins to Him, you are free. I am free.
So stop trying to be religious! Take a breath of the deep, deep love of Jesus. Be still and know that He is God. The only burden we have is easy and light. And it is the burden of complete and total trust that God really does have our backs.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30