Estimated reading time: 5 minutes:)
Here is a very hard question: do you live a life sold out, crazy, bananas for Jesus?
When I asked that question, did you feel just a tinge of guilt? Because I always do. And I think it’s because I know I never do “enough” for God. Because I’m painfully aware of all my mistakes.
It’s easy to look back in scripture and see people who were sold out, crazy, bananas for Jesus. The first people who come to mind are the apostles. Getting flayed and crucified upside down and chopped into pieces for Jesus. It’s quite impressive.
Looking at those heroic and gruesome examples growing up, I compared my life to theirs and shuttered at the difference.
No one’s ever threatened to stone me for believing in Jesus.
So I became ashamed of my faith because it felt so small. It didn’t cost very much on my part. All I did was open my hands and say, “Jesus I want you in my life.”
Has anyone else felt like that? Like, I get it, we’re supposed to have faith the size of a mustard seed. But my mustard seed is particularly small. It’s the runt of the mustard seed bunch.
Would I die for Jesus? Would I get flayed for Jesus? Would I let someone chop off my arm for Jesus?
And my whole life I kept asking these questions (which felt more like punches of shame to the gut). I kept asking, “what would I give up for Jesus? What would I sacrifice?”
I think questions like these have their place. But here’s the thing: we live in 2022 America.
Life with Jesus looks a little bit different than it did 2,000 years ago.
And I think most of the time, these questions are just hypotheticals. Because in most of our lives (Lord willing), we will not be flayed or killed or crucified for Jesus. We will probably die in a nursing home of old age or something boring and anticlimactic like that.
What I’m saying is, the problem with asking hypotheticals is they don’t usually happen. So sure, you can say “yes, I would get flayed for Jesus.” But if that situation never rises, you will never really know. So what use is the question?
I think a harder questions to ask is, “how will my life look different with Jesus?”
Because it’s harder to live for something than it is to die for something.
Sometimes I hear a sermon or see an example of a strong Christian and think, “I should be doing so much more for Christ.”
I mean, every sermon I’ve heard has an application piece at the end. Heck, my blogs have an application piece at the end. And each lesson I read or listen to, I take these mental tabs. I’m like, “okay, I need to be ready for Jesus to return at any moment. And also I need control my tongue better. And also I need to change my perspective on success. And also I need to apologize for that thing I did. And also and also and also…”
This sounds terrible, but my mind is like an endless piece of paper, each line filled with a to-do list item backed by a verse calling me to a higher life.
And this backlog is a constant reminder of the ways I falls short. The devils twists my understanding of what God loves and uses it to shame me. “You haven’t done that yet. Or that. Or that. What a joke.”
But this is how the enemy gets a Christian away from Jesus! He tricks them sneakily and quietly into leading a works-based life. And they don’t even realize it.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught myself wallowing in shame for all the things I haven’t done. As if I could even do enough to work my way to heaven.
Life with Jesus is not a to-do list!
(I’m sitting here baffled because I just started talking about something on my heart, the topic of “doing enough for Jesus,” and yet again I’m realizing it’s a gospel issue. It all boils down to the gospel. To grace. I can’t tell you how many times this happens when I just start writing.)
Life with Jesus is a relationship, not a job.
Every time I think, “man, I haven’t done enough for God lately,” I have to stop and remember the anthem of my life, the most beautiful story I know, the song of human history: the gospel.
Did I reach right standing with God because I “did enough” for him?
Did I gain heaven and even more beautifully, gain a relationship with God because I “did enough” for him?
You know the answers to those questions. But do you know the answer to this one:
Why do you feel like you need to do enough for Jesus?
I’ve realized the people who are sold out, crazy, bananas for Jesus are people who are not interested in keeping score. They are not keeping tabs on all their good works or acts of willpower. They do not even know the number of good things they’ve “done for God” because they’re focusing on something so much greater: the God they’re doing the good things for.
And as I’ve grown in my relationship with God, the more I’ve realized: Relationship always comes first.
Faith is not accepting Jesus into your heart once and then turning into this good person.
It’s accepting Jesus into your heart every single day.
Every day I have to get on my knees and ask for forgiveness. Every day I have to talk with Jesus because if I don’t my day feels dark and empty and I develop these lines between my eyebrows from frowning so much.
I said before that I’d always thought my faith was too small because it didn’t cost very much on my part.
But I’ve realized: my faith is not real because of how much it cost me.
My faith is real because of how much it cost Jesus.
And Jesus paid an awfully steep price for me.
So here’s what I mean to say. All those things you want to do for God are not bad things. They are amazing things. They are things that please God.
But you know what pleases God the most?
Taking some time out of your day to just talk with him.
Running to him first because he’s your best friend.
Being in constant dialogue with your maker, saying things like “please forgive me,” and “wow God you’re beautiful,” and “I love you,” and “I trust you even though I don’t see in this moment” all day long.
And you might not be at the level of constant dialogue with Jesus yet. But it starts with spending just a little bit of time with him. That’s all.
Spend some time with Jesus and all the things you want to do for him become easier ~ and you’ll be doing them for the right reasons. Because you become who you hang out with most.
How I twist and complicate my life with Jesus. It is far simpler than I ever imagined.
Anyway, I hope this helps you refocus on Jesus instead of the cross that killed him. No more dwelling on all the ways you’ve fallen short. Jesus already died for those.
Jesus loves hearing about how you’re feeling, how your day is going, all the things on your heart. Cast all your anxieties on Him, beloved. Go spend some time with the One who loves you most:).
If you have some extra time, check out my other blogs on similar topics!