“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
When I had first enrolled myself as an “active” member of a local church, I understood my “membership” as being available to the congregation and help wherever and whenever needed. Just like the law of Moses, every expectation that I had either set on myself or others had set on me seems very doable.
I rated my relationship to God based on the depth of my involvement with the congregation as far as being a helper in a good number of areas. The more I did, the more I believed to be “closer” to God. The more I “helped”, the more appreciated I was. You could say that I was a beacon, a self-made beacon. Yet, this self-attained tenure had existed for thousands of years and many others in the congregation were enrolled along with more or less depth. We led worship services. We preached. We taught Bible Studies. We played instruments. We organized events. We gave our time, our money, our professional skills, our family. Yes, we gave our family. The congregation wants something of us, no questions asked, they can have it. At least, that’s what it was for my family and me.
I had believed that with my skills and whatever resources I may have had at the time that I was beyond equipped for ministry. Looking back, the truth is that I had no idea of what ministry was other than “doing” some or everything that I had found those who came before me were doing. In other words, if I happened to be doing something the congregation benefitted to some extent, then that was a “ministry”.
This definition of ministry taught by the church was quickly adapted by anyone hoping to be doing something for God. At times, there would be bad sentiments among those claiming to be defending their position or “opportunity for ministry.”
When someone considers their relationship with God to be based on what they’re doing in a church, it can hurt them deeply as others claim to be taking it away from them. The basis then becomes a leverage for others to control that person emotionally.
In the back of my mind, I thought that I had enough skills to be of any use to God. That was my conclusion at the time. Where did God ever asked that I go and gather up some skills and return to him to see if I could be of any use to him? I have no idea. But as I observed the leaders and listened to them, that’s what I led myself to believe.
In following through such belief, I had entirely disregarded the gospel. I had no time or attention for the gospel. To me then, it was more critical that I try to measure up by working and working and feel good about myself, rather than feeling good about what God had done with Christ on the cross, in and out of the grave.
I can tell you that if you work hard enough, eventually you will believe that you have reached perfection. If you work long enough, even the congregation will eventually bow down before you as one does before a king. Every Christian who believes in their works seeks to look spotless. And they can’t look spotless, then they seek to overwork themselves in the effort of confronting the measure of their sins. I was there myself, that’s how I know it for myself, saw it in myself and many others. Zealous without knowledge, I was. I was zealous without knowing what Christ had done for me.
My measure before God will always be his love for me. My standing before God will always be anchored by the blood of Jesus. My closeness to God will always be as close as Jesus is to God. For through the blood of Jesus, God made me alive with His Spirit so that I may inherit all that He, now as my Father, has for me.
God’s love is the measure.