Have you ever thought to yourself, “One day I’ll really commit to living the Christian lifestyle, but I’m just not ready for that yet?” I grew up learning about Jesus and His sacrifice, but believing and living out my beliefs were different things. When I went away to college I started building walls around my heart, with very REAL feelings of guilt, shame, and rebellion.
I wanted to live life MY way, without the rules of religion. I saw God as a judgmental grandfather who was disappointed in my life choices, so I avoided Him. I still loved Him and wanted to involve Him in my life down the road (when I was ready to get married and have kids), but while I was seeking independence, I bought into the lie that God’s way would restrict me from living life to the fullest.
To say I was wrong is the understatement of my life. I failed to understand a crucial element of the dynamic relationship Jesus offers each and every one of us.
Our salvation CANNOT be earned. We hear this in church but for me – and I think for many others – there’s often a disconnect somewhere along the way. Many of us adopt a mindset that in order to live the “Christian lifestyle” we have to be perfect. We are wary about committing our lives to Jesus because we fear we’ll never be able to measure up to it.
Wrong again. Pledging your life to Jesus sounds daunting when you imagine it as a lifelong commitment you are making in one moment, but the amazing thing about Him is that He doesn’t expect instant perfection. Rather, He transforms our hearts day by day using little baby steps.
My first baby step in – what I now refer to as my “heart transformation” – was to open a daily devotional one morning. In the past I had set ambitious goals, like reading the entire Bible in a year, but this time was different. I took the pressure off MYSELF, and instead allowed JESUS to do the work in my heart. I stopped fighting Him, and I invited Him to come into my life for ONE day at a time.
When I stopped worrying about the weeks, months and years to come, and instead treated my relationship with Jesus like a true RELATIONSHIP, talking with Him, reading His Word and asking Him to walk with me on a day-by-day basis, I learned that it was HE and the Holy Spirit who did the heavy lifting in my life, not me.
God tells us to quit being anxious about things that are outside of our control and surrender control to Him. He reminds us of this in Matthew 6:34: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Our daily dependence on God allows Him to slowly carve out the things in our lives that He wants us to remove and gradually introduce us to new ways of living. If you think “committing your life to Christ” means that you will instantly have to sell all of your belongings and move to a third-world country to become a missionary, OF COURSE you will be intimidated and discouraged and probably give up.
But that’s not how God works. When we offer Him the smallest seed of faith, He can use it to transform our hearts little by little, gradually making us more like Him. The point is that we can’t allow the fear of making radical life changes overnight keep us from a genuine relationship with Jesus.
We have to trust that God is GOOD and realize that He has placed us exactly where we are for a specific reason: to touch the lives of the people right in front of us. Jesus knows firsthand that life here on Earth is hard, which is why He can relate so intimately to us, and us to Him. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
Your life will become significantly richer and EASIER when you invite Jesus to be a part of it. Drop the pretense and allow Him to get to work in your life, one day at a time.