I am so tired of hearing the message of “Whatever you’re currently doing isn’t enough.” I’m sure you’ve heard this message in one form or another. It’s the pervading message of the world all around us. Got a problem? Well, you probably did something to deserve it. I am certainly not trying to absolve everyone from all personal responsibility. Far from it. But does everything always come back down to something that you or I did wrong? I am sure that if I wracked my brain long enough I could always drudge up something, for God’s sake! For example, as a Christian, I am tired of picking up books promising me help in a certain area, only to find a few chapters later, that all the problems I have are all somehow my fault. Got troubles in your life? Well, it’s because you’re not praying enough. Not reading your Bible enough. Not tithing enough. Not in a small group. Not attending church regularly. Not serving enough. Do you find yourself having miscarriages or struggling with allergies? Well, it’s because you haven’t repented on behalf of your great grand-pappy who was once a practicing Free Mason. If you think I’m kidding about that last one, I’ve actually heard someone make a case for that before. This is the message of the Pharisees (the religious leaders in Jesus’ day), to whom Jesus very clearly spoke these words:
“Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help.” (Matthew 23:4, Msg)
Jesus also said,
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:29, Msg).
Freely and lightly? Sign me up! When I think about the load that many people are under in this day and age, it truly boggles my mind. My friend, Erin, and I were talking the other day about how many jobs women today have to fill and how unrealistic it is. As Christian stay-at-home-moms, and I use that as an example simply because that is the culture in which I have experience, we expect ourselves to be meal-planners, car-poolers, social coordinators, accountants, maids, cooks, counselors, coaches, and then at the end of the day we’re supposed to make sure that our relationships with our spouses are healthy and intact. On top of all that, if we want to be really good, we need to be actively involved at church. And then if we’re homeschooling, add the job of a school teacher. Or room mother. Or…fill in the blank. That’s quite a tall order to fill. I mean, does anyone else see how crazy all this is? I think we might be missing something, or at the very least, our focus is wrong.
When I first came to know Christ, I remember that free and light feeling. It literally felt like a thousand lead bricks had been gently lifted, by loving and kind hands, off of my bruised and burdened back. Yet it wasn’t long after that I, and the rest of the world, began replacing that oppressive load all over again, brick by burdensome brick. My own insecurities, my need for approval, and expectations of those I cared about all contributed in laying an impressive and impermeable foundation. I’ve had moments in my life since then, however-the number in which I can unfortunately only count on one hand-where I felt for just a few moments that a fracture in that foundation would occur; and beautiful, heavenly light would shine through. These were the moments when I have felt completely loved and accepted. As I am. No worries. No fear. No expectations. No striving for approval. No…more, more, more. And then as quickly as the dream would begin, I’d find myself ripped out of the reverie and returned to the world of struggle and strife; where the only things that matter are what I do, what I earn, and what I produce.
Not who I am.
My friends, that can NOT be the Kingdom of God!
I am more convinced than ever that God is more interested in who we are than what we do. You can be the most handsome, polished, upstanding citizen and still have a heart that is black as coal. Jesus said in Matthew 23:25-28 (NLT),
“…You are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! Blind Pharisees! First wash the inside of the cup, and then the outside will become clean, too…You are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. You try to look like upright people outwardly, but inside your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
God is far less concerned about our appearances, our earning power, our status, our productivity, what we do, than He is with our very selves. As a parent of four children, I am far more concerned with my children and who they are as people and how they are treating each rather than how perfectly they are behaving themselves.
I think this is the very message (i.e., lie) from which Christ came to set us free. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. He who the Son sets free is free indeed. His yoke, as opposed to any other yoke, is easy and His burden is light. This is the life that Christ came to give the world, because the world works in systems of measurement, grades, and comparison. This is the message that the Church should be reminding us of on a daily basis, and not reinforcing the “What more can you do?” message. Instead, our message should be one of freedom, hope, love, and redemption.
You cannot earn God’s love, favor, or acceptance. We are told this when we first come to know Jesus as our Lord. But then there’s a little bit of a bait and switch thing that happens. The minute we are transposed from the world of darkness to light, so begins the lists of “do’s” and “don’ts.” The rules and lists of “acceptable” lifestyles, appearances, and behaviors. The “correct” ways to vote. The “proper” courses to study in school.
Enough is enough!
Christ is enough.
And you are enough for Christ.