“Do not be afraid. Am I in the place of God?” Genesis 50:19
“’Do not be afraid’ is the opposite statement of religion. Religion says, ‘You should be afraid’. When I judge people I am putting myself in the place of God. That’s not what we have been called to do.”- excerpt from the message at my church this morning.
I was raised in the Christian church. But as an adult, I put my belief up on a shelf and said, “I’ll get back to that later. I want to do things my way for awhile.”
Years later, with my heart and soul and life… all in tatters on the floor… I hit my knees. “I’ve totally messed this up. Everything is in ruin. I’m miserable. I can’t do this. Please, please help me. Save me. I was so wrong. I need You… I can’t do it on my own.”
And then, after I had called out and released all of that oppression and pain, I took my belief off the shelf and re-examined everything I knew or thought I knew. I saw it all with new eyes and an open heart.
My beliefs are not meant to be used as a political tool or an instrument of pain and judgement. They are not meant to threaten and shame.
My belief in Jesus Christ is my salvation. It’s my lifeblood. It’s a personal relationship. It’s my unrelenting hope, richest joy, and absolute freedom. It’s why I do not fear death. It has absolutely restored my soul and saved my life. Not because it made me perfect, but because I have been given grace and redemption. I don’t know where on this earth I would be without it. Or indeed if I would be here at all.
I’m so sorry if you have been hurt or judged by those claiming the power of God. I have been too. So I know how that feels. I hope that the wounds inflicted won’t stop your pursuit of God. We are all without exception- searching. Whether you realize it or not, there’s an innate tug on our hearts. It’s only a question of what we fill it with… perhaps success, relationships, money, or escape?
I only want you to know that what ultimately fills my heart is not any of those things. I don’t believe we will ever find complete satisfaction in any of that. The only true freedom from pain I’ve found is Christ. It’s not about a religious hammer nailing judgement into your life. If I judge you, I’m doing it wrong. I’m putting myself in the place of God. And I am so, so far from God’s perfection.
My belief is not a tool to control the world around me. And I won’t stand for it being used that way. I hope that you won’t use your feelings about what you think my beliefs are to damn, mock, or shame me…but even if you do, I am here to love and forgive. Not because I’m so holy and pure and righteous…but because I have been unconditionally loved and completely forgiven. How can that not then guide the way I live?
That’s it. That’s what being a follower of Christ really is. Anything else is fraud. I am not in God’s place. It’s only through His open arms that I am saved.
If that isn’t the Christianity that you know, I’d invite you to look deeper. Look for the truth. Not what the media tells you. Not what the angry person screaming damnation on the corner tells you. Not what that person with haughty eyes and a cold heart tells you. Not what that person sharing prideful, taunting arguments on social media tells you. Not what that person using religion as justification for their political agenda tells you.
Look directly at who Christ is and what He did. There’s too much at stake for us not to.