My Christian Walk

From: April 2009

I divide my Christian walk into three phases. The first phase was not that good – the second was better –and the third phase, where I am today, is very good. I will not say the best, because it will be better and better – with ever-increasing glory says the Word of God in 2 Cor. 3:18.

The first phase

This first phase I will call the striving period of my life. Christianity for me was about doing (to do). I had to do this and not do that. I knew I was saved by grace - that in myself I was not good enough, because the Bible says that if you stumble at just one point of the Law, you are guilty of breaking all of it (Jam. 2:10).  Jesus says in Mat. 5:27-28 that a sinful thought is just like a sinful deed. So I knew it was impossible to never, ever have one sinful thought. Still, I expected of myself that I should be perfect.

As a good Christian, I should never do anything wrong. I should always be gentle and kind, read a lot in my Bible, pray a lot, and attend a lot of Christian meetings. When I was able to do this well in my own eyes, I felt good, if not, I felt bad.  Most of the time I didn’t make it because the devil made sure that it never was good ENOUGH. If I prayed for 15 minutes, I should have prayed for 30 minutes and so on. Can you see how wrong this was? Everything was about me - if I could make it or not. I knew what Rom. 8:1 says: “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Still I felt so condemned most of the time, and that robbed me from being bold.

How could he love one who so often disappointed him

In my childhood I learned that I had to be nice and clever to be loved (conditional love). I think that’s why I tried to perform for God, too. I believed I had to be a good Christian to be loved by him, just as I had to be a good, clever girl to be loved by my parents, relatives and friends. I knew I was saved because of the scripture in Joh. 1:12 that says “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God.” I believed God kept his Word, and I had received Jesus as my Savior, so he had to open the heavenly door for me. But I couldn’t imagine that he loved me, and was happy about me coming to heaven when I died. I knew in my head this wasn’t right, but without being aware of it, I felt this way. How could he love one who so often disappointed him, and so often did wrong things? He could not possibly be pleased with such a Christian.  But fortunately, this is not what the Bible says. The truth is that our father in heaven loves us with unconditional love. It has nothing to do with us doing good - being good Christians or not. He does not love us for what we do, but for who we are - his creation, his children.

The second phase

With this discovery, my second phase as a Christian began. I now understood that Christianity was not about to do, but about to be. God, the Father, loved me as I was. He didn’t love me more or less whether I was doing good or bad. No, he just loved me because I was his beloved child. We love our children when they are new-born babies and completely dependant on us. They cannot do anything for us. They are just receiving and receiving all the time. We love them just because they are our children. So much more does our Father in heaven love us. He, who not only has love, but who is love (1 Joh. 4:8). He loves us as he loves Jesus (Joh. 17:23). That’s incredible! He loves us for who we are, not for what we do or don’t do.

He loves us for who we are, not for what we do or don’t do.

The story about Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42 shows what’s the most important – doing or being. Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Mary was sitting there in the presence of Jesus. Martha was busy in doing things for him. “But, shall we just sit there and do nothing?” you may ask. I will answer with a new question. “Do you think Mary, who was sitting there at the Lord’s feet, would have brought him a glass of water if he had asked her?” I’m quite sure she would have. She had this close fellowship with Jesus. She could hear his voice, and she had experienced his love. She loved him, too. Whatever Jesus would ask her to do, she would do out of her love for him and with great joy.

Martha, however, was striving to please Jesus; maybe by doing things he never even had asked her to do. She had forgotten the most important thing - the close fellowship with her Savior, to be in his presence, to hear his voice and be led by him and not by herself. I think it is easy to be burned out if you are doing things in your own strength, out of your own or other people’s expectations, or out of a desire to be loved and accepted. But if you do what he asks you to do, and work in his strength, out of your love for him, you will not be burned out. If Christianity is more about to be than about to do, you will not have such a striving life.

The third phase

Now, I have written about two phases: “to do” and “to be”. The time has come for the third phase which is even better than the second. And that is not to do, nor to be, but that all is done. That really is fantastic! All is done! By whom? By Jesus. Jesus has done it all. He did what I was unable to do concerning my salvation. There’s nothing more to do. He did everything. As we sing in a song: “What Jesus Did was Enough.”

The scripture in Heb. 10:14 says: “By one sacrifice he has made perfect for ever those who are being made holy.” Who has been made holy? Every person who has accepted Jesus as his or her Savior - He who is the great gift from God to everyone who receives him. This gift makes you holy, clean and perfect. Do you have fear of not being good enough to go to heaven when you die? Then you are looking upon yourself instead of Jesus. Was (is) Jesus good enough? Yes! – And then you are also good enough.

You might say: “But, I’m not able to be like Jesus.” No, you are right. None of us can be like Jesus in our own strength. But that’s what it is all about. That’s the good news - the Gospel. Jesus made it. He did it because we couldn’t. He kept the Law. He lived without sin, and he gives his life to us. Then it becomes as if we keep the Law and live without sin. Completely undeserved - you have got his life, his righteousness. Completely undeserved - he got your sin, punishment and judgment. 2 Cor. 5:21 says: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” How great is the grace of God!

I’m so pleased that to be a child of God does not depend on me.

Be aware, I am not saying we never sin anymore. But by grace, because of Jesus, we have become righteous to God. We do not become sinners again as soon as we make a mistake. Neither does a caterpillar, who has become a butterfly, turn back to be a caterpillar every time it’s not flying. But it’s important to focus upon the fact God looks upon us as righteous and not as sinners. The more you focus upon what you have been given - righteousness, peace and joy - the more your life will be righteous, peaceful and filled with joy. What occupies your mind will put its mark on you. I’m so pleased that to be a child of God does not depend on me. It’s not about my life, but about the life of Jesus. It depends on him—and he is perfect

Getting the order right

I will close this testimony by showing that even though the first “to do phase” was not good for me, I now understand that all three phases belong to the Christian walk - but in another way and in another order than it was in my life. Number one has to be all is done. This is the most important and the foundation. Then the other two phases will come by themselves.

When you realize that everything is about Jesus and not about you, you don’t have to strive anymore. And when you see this enormous grace, you will understand that you are valuable just because you are his child - that his great love for you is not dependant on what you do. He loves you because you are (to be) his beloved child in Jesus. Knowing this, you can rest in his presence the way Mary did.

This great unconditional love will make you love him, too. It says in 1 Joh. 4:19: “We love because he first loved us.” Then you will be a person that wants to do all he asks of you. It will be a desire in your heart to do good deeds. He will put it there. And you will do, be a doer out of love, not out of fear, or out of a desire to be accepted and loved. You will do because you are accepted and loved. You see, Christianity contains all three phases, and if they come in the right order, you will have a great life.

1. ALL IS DONE, by Jesus
2. BE - you can be in God’s presence as his beloved child
3. DO - you will be a doer out of love for him. 1 Cor. 15:10.