Tuesday, August 30, 2016

so wonderfully complex

God is so gracious. i am just reflecting here today...unraveling some things on my heart. 

i am so thankful for grace. i am thankful that God loves me for me, accepts me as His, and sees past my mistakes straight to my heart. i am thankful that Jesus didn't wipe clean my personality when He wiped clean my sins.

i didn't always know this or believe this about God. i didn't always understand how His grace works. once upon a time, i thought there was a cookie cutter i had to fit in to in order for Jesus to love me, a formula for religious perfection i needed to follow. sadly, i also believed that anyone who didn't fit in this particular cookie cutter yet claimed to be a Christian was a hypocrite.  

i thought heaven was only for "good" people, and for a long time i tried really hard to be good enough. but thankfully, that's not how grace works and that's certainly not the gospel. my bible tells me in Romans 5 that Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of my sins so that i could be called a child of God through faith in Christ.  

"Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments."
"Which ones?" he inquired. Jesus replied, "You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself." -Matthew 19:17-19

"Jesus didn't come to make bad people good. Jesus came to make dead people alive." -Pastor Benny Perez

God's grace gives me the freedom to be myself, alive. it doesn't ask me to be a perfect version of myself, or to be myself acting holier than thou, no. God's grace calls me to surrender to His perfect Love, to rely on His perfection to complete where i lack. He is perfect. i am not. i realize this: i need Jesus my Savior to help me live this life better. God's grace calls me to press on toward holiness, accepting Christ's help to turn from sin and towards Him. 

this life is not about striving or pretending, but growing and gleaning and gratitude. being a Christian doesn't mean i must fit a holy mold or live like a robot programmed with a short list of ancient and irrelevant commands. being a Christ-follower doesn't mean i can't be Eryn, who and how God created me to be. my moral compass is being aligned with the character of God. and while He is making me new, He doesn't snuff out my personality, my sense of humor, my dreams, or my desires in the process. 

God doesn’t need flawless followers to make Him famous. Instead, He needs surrendered lives through which to shine. -Alicia Bruxvoort

God took my sin-dead life and made me alive in Christ, according to Ephesians 2. i am changed, yes. i want to be more like Jesus, yes. and i am still me. i am authentically, genuinely pursuing Jesus with a desire to walk obediently in His ways. and thankfully, He didn't ask me to check my personality at the door. 

"Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about..." -Psalm 139:14

because of God's grace, i am never left wondering if i am good enough, if i messed up too bad, if God will forgive me or if He still loves me. i will mess up. i have shortcomings. i am learning and i am on a journey towards Jesus. but in the meantime, i fall asleep confident that He knows me and He loves me. i find my peace in the promise in Romans 8 that says nothing will never hinder His love for me. i am a child of God and nothing can separate me from His love. i am not my imperfections, and i won't let my failures define my future. brokenness is not my story. i am growing, moving, pressing on, and leaning in. 

"Grace covers. And it covers again and again. Thanks be to God. But if we stop there, we are only telling half of the story. Titus 2:11-13 says, 'For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age.' Grace covers my sin, and then it pushes me to be more like Christ." -Megan Hill

being a Christian might not look like you think it should. be wary of deeming someone like me a fake, a hypocrite, or an impostor if they don't fit the "Christian" mold you think they should. 
everyone is on a journey that no one but God can judge. we are mere witnesses to the works in progress of the Holy Spirit. that guy sitting at the bar, that lady speeding like a madwoman through traffic, that teenager who looks like he is skipping school today, that girl with the spiky blue hair and all the tattoos? they all might be pursuing Jesus, too. God knows them and loves them. He has forgiven their sins and erased their pasts, but He has not erased their personalities. 

and what about the lady who has served at church faithfully for years without any drama, who loves her husband and family, who reads her bible every morning with her coffee, and lives a pretty squeaky clean life? God knows her and loves her. He has forgiven her sins and erased her past, but He has not erased her personality. 

God sees past the external to our hearts, thoughts, and intentionsjust like me, just like you, people with very different personalities are living very real lives covered by God's grace.

"When you try to cut out Christians with a religious cookie cutter, you not only tarnish diversity, but you trample on grace." -Preston Sprinkle

and the world will know them not by their picture-perfect straight-laced lives or their ability to recite bible verses or their mission trip stamped passports. and the world will know them not by their shortcomings or their failures or their stumbles. the world will know them by their love.

"And so I am giving a new commandment to you now—love each other just as much as I love you. Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples." -John 13:34-35

watch for the ones who love others as much as Jesus loves. you'll know them because they will sit next to, invite, go with, hold the door open for, forgive, be patient with, and extend grace to others. they will have personalities, and hopefully they will be relatable and real. they might stumble, but they'll get back up in Jesus' strength. they'll be the ones who won't judge others who stumble, but will extend a helping hand.

it is so beautiful, this grace and freedom that God gives. and i am so thankful. the more i know, the more i love.