“Owe no one anything, except to love each other” (see Romans 13:8)
As a Christian, I was always expected to “go to church” regularly, attend Bible studies regularly, open my doors of trust to anyone bearing the title “Brother …” or “Sister …”. If I had run into anyone called a pastor, I had the mindset to literally be a slave to that person and not question his motives or deeds. I expected myself to do as most Christian would do: keep my mouth shut, and doubt my doubts. Every time I met with the “local” church, as some would put it, I was reminded one more time of the things that I need to keep up with. New things got added on my list. And I seemed to be doing “better” than others. I was doing “so good”, that it wasn’t long that I was now leading others into the same errors that I had learned: do better, try harder. The gospel, in all of this, was nowhere to be found. Each person, including myself, was very critical of how they’re seen by others, and how others look to them.
That, is religion. The only time I was at rest was when I could physically do no more, hoping to use that as my excuse for “not working”.
When I left my regularity of rushing to a building to perform along with others, that was my demonstration of how man-made principles and rules no longer had any hold on me. You could hear it from the reactions of the leaders, “he’s no longer a Christian”. When I left, the church did not stop being the church of Christ. Neither did I stop being a Christian, as if there ever was such possibility. Instead, from God, I learned what it is to be a Christian, free from sin, free to Christ, by his doing, not by mine as if there could ever be such possibility.
The gospel has nothing to do with meeting the expectations of others, but being Christ to one another. And we can only do that by loving one another. And we can only do that by the power of Christ, His Spirit, dwelling in our most precious room, our hearts.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)
As Christians, nothing less and nothing more should be expected of us other than Christ.
Kalley best reminded of this joyful fact through her song, “Ever be”:
“Your love is devoted like a ring of solid gold
Like a vow that is tested like a covenant of old
Your love is enduring through the winter rain
And beyond the horizon with mercy for today
“Faithful You have been and faithful You will be
You pledge yourself to me and it’s why I sing
“Your praise will ever be on my lips,
Ever be on my lips
Your praise will ever be on my lips,
Ever be on my lips
“You Father the orphan
Your kindness makes us whole
You shoulder our weakness
And Your strength becomes our own
You’re making me like You
Clothing me in white
Bringing beauty from ashes
For You will have Your bride
“Free of all her guilt and rid of all her shame
And known by her true name and it’s why I sing
“You will be praised You will be praised
With angels and saints we sing worthy are You Lord
You will be praised You will be praised
With angels and saints we sing worthy are You Lord”
Your praise, Jesus, will ever be on my lips.
Had Jesus not shown himself to me through the gospel, I would have still remained in religion.
My salvation, my repentance, my freedom, my joy, my haven, my being filled with the Holy Spirit is by the mercy of God, the love of God, not by own doing or religious achievements. This is my story, this is my song, praising my savior all day long.