"I didn't cuss. I didn't drink alcohol or use drugs. I avoided all the sins people considered the "worst."
"And in addition to all of the things I didn't do, I was also a pretty good person. I went to church on most Sundays, I played guitar in the praise band. And my wife and I even led a small group in our home every week.'
"I thought I was doing everything that was required of me to stay right with God."
For years, this is how I lived out my faith and these were the standards I used to justify my standing as a "good" Christian.
It wasn't until after a severe traumatic brain injury that I began to realize followers of Jesus are called to a life of so much more than this checkbox style of Christianity that I'd grown way too comfortable with. It was then I began to see that God doesn't want us to cautiously avoid sin or to merely play the game of religion. He doesn't want us working to earn His favor. Rather, we are called to rest and trust in what Jesus has already done for our salvation. And to let the same power that saves us, give us the strength to live for him right now.
Don't get me wrong. I'm still human which means I still, and will always, struggle with sin. But the sin that I had been working so hard to avoid no longer has the same attraction. And the duties that I had fulfilled in the past because I had to or because that was what Christians were supposed to do are no longer a joyless task or simply a way to earn God's approval. These good deeds are no longer a means to get what I want or what I feel I deserve.
I am extremely grateful to have learned the truth of what being a Christian truly means. It is way more than checking off a bunch of boxes. It is so much more than following a bunch of rules. It is more than using my faith to make myself look and feel better.
Being a Christian is about having a relationship with Jesus and letting Him change me. It means loving Jesus and loving others. It is about serving Him and following Him no matter where He leads. But this is no longer because I have to but because I want to. Because I have learned, and am still learning, about everything he has already done for me.