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.

For years, this is why I thought of myself as being a “strong” Christian and why many others believed the same. But then I began to learn and understand how true followers of Jesus are supposed to live and realized it was so much more than this checkbox style of Christianity I had grown so comfortable with. 

I began to see God doesn't want us cautiously avoiding sin or merely playing the game of religion. He doesn't want us working to earn His favor. 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. 

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 had 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 were no longer a joyless task or simply a way to earn God's approval. These good deeds were no longer a means to get what I want or to earn what I felt I deserved.

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 about everything he has already done for me.