I grew up with a vengeful god.
Yeah you read that right….I hit the little g on purpose cause thats not how the one true God works y’all.
Just plain facts.
Anyway – I grew up very legalistic. For those who don’t know what legalism is, heres a quick 411:
Legalism definition from dictionary.com is excessive adherence to law or formula. You see God gave Moses a set of laws (the Ten Commandments see Exodus 34) and that is the law that the Israelites were to live by. And if you didn’t? You was going to hell.
Okay. I’m not exactly sure of that last part – but it wasn’t good.
To be forgiven of their sins, the Israelites would need to sacrifice a pure lamb. For real folks this lamb had to be perfect. All their sins would be placed on this pure, spotless lamb and if God accepted their sacrifice? Their sins would be forgiven. I say “if” cause there were a lot of rules about making a proper sacrifice – too in depth for now.
But here’s the thing that moves the law to the side…the New Testament. More specifically, Jesus. He came. He died for our sins. He became the lamb for the whole world. He became pure sin so that we didn’t go to hell for … being sinful. Whew right?
Well enter in legalism.
Legalism kinda points to back to the Old Testament – like what Jesus did wasn’t enough. You have to be perfect and do things a certain way or you were going to hell.
Friend….Thats not the point of salvation at all. Legalism makes you think that you need to do these certain things to earn salvation or Gods “good favor” but thats not it! Jesus came so that we don’t hafta follow the law to get to heaven. We should definitely try to follow the law – yes! But know this we are gonna fail and not meet it. Why? Cause theres no way we could.
Well….that wasn’t short and theres actually a whole lot that I’m leaving out. But moving on….
I grew up legalistic. Actually I still struggle with that even now at 40….not a shining moment but I’m learning. And thats the point right?
Learning. But thats a-whole-nother topic.
Back to it…..I grew up legalistic. Very. Remember I told y’all – I didn’t have the best church growing up. I was taught in order to be a good christian – You were supposed to read your bible daily. Tithe monthly. Pray. Raise your hands in worship. Sing during worship time…..oh how I could go on with their rules.
So when bad things were happening to me? I knew – it was cause I was failing as a Christian. I didn’t have enough faith…I didn’t read my bible enough. I knew it was my fault.
So when I got a diagnosis of a tumor on my thyroid gland at the ripe old age of 10 – I was told I had no faith and that God was making me go through this because I needed faith.
In my head I was a bad christian that needed to get right with God. This was my time to prove myself. (FYI – so not how Jesus and grace work. See Eph 2:8-9)
I was told that if my faith was big enough there would be no tumor. Well folks – it was there. Big huge thing. And I was crushed. I KNEW didnt have enough faith. It was my fault I failed. Was I even a christian? What was wrong with me?
The spurred on a lot of “I have to do this right cause I failed” ideas…which later spurred into: “I have failed as a Christian why should I even try?” And started giving up on the idea that God could love someone like me.
It wasnt until I was in my 30’s that I learned the true meaning of grace. Grace by definition of Merriam-Webster: unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification.
God gives us grace – that no matter we do? He will forgive us our sins as long as we ask for forgiveness. He will always love us and forgive us and accept us because of grace:
I wish I had learned sooner that no matter what?
God loves me…..