Last month, I wrote about the importance of going to church. And, after a year of not physically going to church and only watching online, I decided to start attending again. But it got me thinking about why I was really wanting to go to church.
Was I looking for worship, or was I still stuck trying to mark off my Sunday School checklist? You know, the “came to church, brought your Bible, paid an offering” checklist that got you a sticker or piece of candy each week. It’s good to encourage children to follow those commands and I excelled at it because of the promise of candy (I have a huge sweet tooth) and because I am a rule follower.
As I’ve grown up, I’ve been more lenient when it comes to some rules. Like my apartment says no candles in the bedrooms, but I want my room to smell nice so I have a candle in my bedroom and I light it occasionally — always supervised, of course — but that’s a rule I don’t follow. The one-way aisles at grocery stores were irritating so there were several times that I just quickly slipped down the wrong way on an aisle to grab one thing. But, for the most part, I follow the rules put in place
Sometimes I catch myself wishing salvation was more a rules-based system. Do all of the right things, follow all of the Ten Commandments and you’re good to go. It sounds pretty easy at the surface.
I was a good kid. I followed the rules most of the time, even at home. I still follow the rules. I go to church, I read my Bible, I go to Bible study, I pray, I’m kind to others. In my mind, to the best of my memory, if you were to put all of the “good” things I’ve done next to all of the “bad” things I’ve done, the good would outweigh the bad. And if salvation were works based, I think I’d be pretty set.
But the good news is, that’s not how it works. Because even if it were works based, all it would take (and all it does take) is one sin to separate us. No amount of “good works” would be able to make up for that. And I’ve definitely sinned more than once in my life.
The works-based salvation idea sounds appealing to me because I get to keep control. Real salvation involves giving up control. It sounds so easy to just release control to God, who I know can handle so much more. But it’s still so hard. And it’s something I will continue to work on, probably for the rest of my life. But it should be such a relief to know we aren’t dependent upon ourselves for salvation.
So that’s what I’m trying to focus on when I struggle to keep control over this life. What a relief to be able to lean on a perfect God who loves us so much.