I was incredibly inspired by the sermon this morning at Redemption Hill Church. There were so many things packed into one half-hour message it was amazing. The first question posed was a very thought-provoking one: Is following Jesus a duty that you perform or a delight that you have? It’s a very, very good question, and one that I never really gave much thought to.
How many of us have gone to church all our lives and never really stopped to think about why? It sounds strange, but chew on that for a second. I think we can become complacent over time and even start going for the wrong reasons, whether we think it’s just because we’re supposed to or to gain the acceptance of others, or a plethora of other reasons.
I feel that I’ve been this way throughout my walk with Christ for far too long. It’s only been recently, through the sermons and small groups of Redemption Hill, that I’ve really examined myself to see my true motives for why I do what I do. What I’ve found is that for at least the past 3-5 years, I’ve made going to church more of a dutiful thing than a delight. The thing I’ve come to realize is that once you really take a look at how God is working in your life and helping you to become the person you’re supposed to be, you’re filled with a sense of joy unlike anything else in this world. As that’s happened to me over the past month or so, I’ve begun to take great delight in both attending church and striving to live my life in a way that honors God. I have an understanding of myself and of God that I’ve never quite had before, and it’s a beautiful thing.
The next question that was posed was also a good one: Do you follow Jesus hoping that he’ll love you? What difference would it make for you to follow Jesus because He loves you? How is the source of motivation different? This is a powerful question. As human beings, we tend think that if we do more things that please God, He will love and accept us more, when in fact this is totally backwards. Jesus loves each and every person unconditionally, no matter their situation or how much (or little) they honor Him with their lives. The basic message of Christianity is Christ’s love, and this is the foundation of that principle.
Once we fully understand these two questions fully, I think we’re more inclined to delight in following Christ. I know it’s completely changed my outlook. We’re also more inclined to spread the love and joy of Jesus once we realize our glory is secured by the fact that Christ has died for us, and not based on how we follow Him. That’s not to say we shouldn’t live God-honoring lives. That’s paramount, but all too often this is the only message that is conveyed about Christianity. The message posed in these two questions is the one I think needs to be shared more often with non-Christians. Unconditional acceptance and love is the quintessential meaning of Jesus.