I didn't cuss.
I didn't drink.
I didn’t do drugs.
I didn’t sleep around
Essentially, I avoided all the sins considered the "worst” ones.
And in addition to all of the things I didn't do, I felt like I did a few “good’ things as well.
I went to church most Sundays,
I played guitar in the praise band.
My wife and I even led a small group in our home every week.
Basically, I thought I was doing plenty enough to maintain a good standing with God.
And for years, this is why I thought of myself as being a “strong Christian” and why others probably believed the same.
But this all changed for me after, of all things, I suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. This is when I began to learn and understand that true followers of Jesus are called to a life of so much more than this checkbox style of Christianity I was living, the kind I'd grown way too comfortable with.
It was then that I began to see 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 100% human and this means I still, and will always, struggle with sin. But the sin that I had been working so hard to avoid in the past no longer has the same attraction to me. 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 to earn what I feel I deserve.
I am extremely grateful that I began learning about what being a Christian truly means:
It means loving Jesus.
It means loving others the same way Jesus loves me.
It means serving Jesus and following him no matter where He leads.
It means having a relationship with Jesus and letting him change me.
It’s no longer about checking off the correct “Christian” boxes or doing things because I feel like I “have” to. I am now joyfully and willfully choosing to do all that I can for Jesus. And that’s all because I started learning more and more about everything he has already done for me.