There was a time when I would work my heart out at a local church thinking that these were my ways of pleasing God. I then believed that vanity was something only the world was practicing.
After many years of doing the same year after year, being praised by others for burning myself out and being hated by others for burning myself out, I was cornered. What was I doing wrong?
It turns out that there was nothing additionally that I could do to please God, because Jesus alone pleased God once and for all with glorifying with his life and his death on the cross. And that if I ever needed to please God I’d have to get in Jesus. Jesus to me at the time was a complete stranger. I did not know him. I heard about him, read about him, but never truly know him. In my mind, I could only approach God with fear, and not love. I did all I did, thinking that if I didn’t do them I would be punished by God. That was so far from the truth. Jesus pleased God for me, and I just didn’t “know” it.
“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
But when I started struggling with keeping up with the law of Moses, God nudged me over to Jesus, the only one who can and has set me free from the law of Moses.
Yes, even the church can worship God in vain, trying to bypass Jesus. The law of Moses is vain because it leads to death. But Jesus is eternal life.
The answer to all of my problems during that time was Jesus, and I just didn’t know it.