"Consider this one piece of evidence: millions of people who have spent years attending church, and yet they don't know who God. Their heads are filled wit stuffing about Jesus, but they don't experience Him... More often stumbling along short of the life He promised."
How come the only side of Christ we show the world is His serious side? Perhaps, that's the only side of Christ we know because that's the only side we have allowed ourselves to experience. Perhaps, that's the only side of Christ we have allowed ourselves to experience because we are afraid of living for Someone greater than ourselves. Perhaps, that's all religion has allowed us to experience because it wants to rob us of the freedom we can have in a relationship with the Savior. Regardless, Christ is not about rituals and rules, that's what religion is about. Christ is about freedom from sin through love experienced in a relationship with Him.
A religionship with the church will keep you slaved in fear. A relationship with Christ will set you free in love.
Christ is all loving, all gracious, and all merciful, BUT in being all that He is so much more. Religion has diminished the meaning of love, grace, and mercy to one-dimensional definitions, to words. Something that can be thoroughly explained in a few sermons and through words alone, but Christ can't be put on paper nor broken up into rules. Christ has to be experienced. His love, grace, and mercy give us access to so much more than His forgiveness of our sins and salvation of our souls alone. It's through His love, grace, and mercy that He shows us the joy that it is to live life with Him.
His love washes away our sins so we can walk in His light. His grace favors us with His love so we don't have to live in shame. His mercy showers us with His grace so we can walk a life worthy of Him.
His love, grace, and mercy give us access to His joy. We don't emphasize that enough. We use His love, grace, and mercy as an excuse to "mess up" because He's got us covered, right? And, yes, He does. Yes, we will mess up but we shouldn't continue to mess up over the same things over and over again. Mistakes are mess ups that happen once. After they're not "mistakes" anymore; they're choices. His love, grace, and mercy is not an excuse to excuse our choices but a reason to make better ones. At some point, we need to start living in the gift of freedom that He has given us. It's in that freedom that we will truly experience His joy. We are no longer slaves to sin. We are children of God. It's time we start living like it and experience the joy that it is to live a life worthy of not only who He is, but what He's done for us.
His joy is all around us. When we can't find it in ourselves, we can always find it in Him, in His creation. It's in the smile of a kid. It's in the upbeat personality of a worker at Walmart. It's in the playfulness of a rescued puppy. It's in the humor of an inside joke. It's in the attempt of a failed dunk at a basketball game. it's in the compliments of strangers. It's in the smiles of those around us. It's in the world we keep to ourselves. It's in the rain. It's in the dancing of palm leaves in the air in tune with the breeze. It's in the warm embrace of sunlight. It's in the crash of each wave. It's in the simplicity of life. It's all around us. It's in His love that gave us life. It's in His grace that gave us a chance. It's in His mercy that gave us hope. It's in Him. All we have to do is look beyond our hearts, beyond what we are feeling, beyond what our eyes can see, look into His heart, and see life through His eyes. "God saw all that He had made and it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). Let's make that an excuse to do good and prove God right.
"The joy of the Lord is our strength."