I have been in the baptist church all of my life. I’ve served in every position within the church save the positions of choir director and WMU director. If you ever heard me sing, you would know why I’ve never been asked to serve as choir director. If you know anything about the acronym WMU*, you can understand why I’ve never been asked to serve as the WMU director. During my life in the church, I’ve come to the realization that I need to stop trying to be a better Christian.
Now before I dive into these 4 reasons, please let me state clearly that I am not saying these are reasons you should not attend church. No doubt, I can itemize several reasons why you should attend church. In fact, I’ve just added that topic to my list of blog ideas. I’m specifically referring to intentionally striving to do and say the right things, avoid the wrong things, and keep busy with the work of the church all in the purpose of being a better Christian. I’m persuaded (to use a favorite word of mine) that many in the church of today, the baptist church or any other church devoted to Jesus, should stop trying to be better Christians.
Before I get you any more riled up, let me explain my 4 reasons.
Have you ever heard someone describe the Christian life as hard? “Man, this Christian walk thing is really, really hard!” Well, I completely disagree. The Christian life isn’t hard, it’s impossible. There are many verses within the Bible that highlight the impossibility of a human being maintaining perfection and holiness. The Apostle Paul often describes the human flesh that rages against our desire to avoid sin and the constant struggle we face. It all can be boiled down to a single verse that Paul wrote in Romans. In Romans 3:23, Paul wrote: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. The word “all” is rather inclusive, no one is spared from the reality that we have sinned. Secondly, Paul says we fall short of the glory of God. This is a statement of constantly falling short of God’s glory. Not only have we all sinned in the past, we will also sin in the future.
It Won’t Get You To Heaven
You can have all the right Christian answers, say all the right things, work in every position defined by your church, and still miss Heaven. Don’t believe me? Maybe you’ll believe Jesus. If you pay close attention to Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 7:21-23, you will see that Jesus taught that many (Jesus used the word many, not me) that call Him Lord will not enter into Heaven. Jesus then describes the attempts at being good Christians that will be explained by those being denied entry into Heaven – it’s an impressive list. Those being denied entry into Heaven prophesied in Jesus’ name, they drove out demons in Jesus’ name, they even performed miracles in Jesus’ name. I could build a rather impressive list myself – didn’t I teach Sunday School in your name, didn’t I serve as a deacon in your name, didn’t I have regular devotion time in your name, and I could go on and on. But to all that impressive activity, Jesus said; “depart from me for I never knew you”.
Salvation Isn’t About Works
As I mentioned in the previous point, you can say and do all the right things and still miss Heaven. That is because salvation (forgiveness and redemption of sin) is not gained by anything that we can do. In writing about salvation, Paul mentioned in Ephesians 2:9 that it is “not from works, so that no one can boast”. So Paul is basically saying that you can never work hard enough or do enough to redeem yourself from the penalty of your sin.
It Isn’t God’s Plan
Finally, in our fourth reason that you should stop trying to be a better Christian, we discover that is simply isn’t God’s plan. I was tempted to list this reason first as it pretty much trumps all the others, but I chose to share it with you last in order to keep you reading through this article. But don’t stop now, the conclusion will be the best part – I promise. I mentioned Ephesians 2:9 in my previous reason, and many of you likely recognized the verse and maybe even put it together with verse 8. Just prior to saying you can’t work your way to salvation, Paul said that “you are save by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift”. God’s plan isn’t and has never been for you to attempt to work your way to Heaven.
So what does all this mean? Am I suggesting that you should just give up on church activities, serving in the church, prayer, Bible study, and all the other activities a good Christian should do? No! Similar to Paul when you asked the rhetorical question if we should sin more since grace would abound even more, he answered an emphatic NO. Instead, I’m saying that you should avoid the focus on doing “things” and instead focus on your relationship with Jesus. Out of a close, personal relationship with Jesus will flow the fruits of that relationship. Focus on knowing and loving Jesus more and more each day and you will naturally pray more, you will naturally read your Bible more, you will naturally serve Him more… Knowing and loving Jesus more and more each day should be your compelling purpose.
Men, likewise within the context of the family, don’t focus on doing “things” to make you a better husband. Yes, I know that seems to contradict the last article, but read that article thoroughly and you’ll see the connection to knowing and loving your wife. Instead of focusing on doing “things” to be a better husband, focus on knowing and loving your wife more and more each day. Instead of focusing on doing “things” to be a better father, focus on knowing and loving your children more and more each day. Out of knowing and loving your family more will flow the “things” that make you a better husband and father.
Footnote* – WMU = Women’s Missionary Union
Can you think of other reasons to stop trying to be a better Christian? What “things” or activities should you lay aside so that you can focus on knowing and loving Jesus and your family more and more each day? What are you doing today to know and love Jesus and your family more? Please share your questions, comments, concerns, or cries of outrage in the comments section below.