What if one day you woke up and everything you knew about life was flipped on its head? What if someone revealed to you something so radical, so fantastic, that it caused one of those milestone moments in life – the ones you remember forever.
I remember the day my mum told me the truth about Santa and the tooth fairy, how the red coat and fairy dust was actually a brunette in slippers with a sieve, some wellies and a sprinkling of icing sugar by the front door. As young children we take what we are told as gospel truth don’t we? Yes there’s tantrums and tears as we grow and learn but there’s also an understanding (in most cases) that the grown-ups have some kind of a clue as to what’s happening in the times that we don’t. We grow up inquisitive, but we trust their stories, no matter how dramatic, out there, or magical they may be. We put our faith in them before we learn to develop our own.
When we are teenagers we’re filled with mad theories, questions and a belief that we know the world better than anyone and we’re going to change it. We question and question, Google becomes our sounding board and there’s moments when we realize that perhaps the people we trust don’t have all the answers we need. This is all part of the journey. Learning to question is easy, continuing to do so is important.
How many of us have sat in church pews, prayer meetings, bible studies and sermons and taken whatever is said to be ‘gospel’? I know I have! We put implicit trust in those on the platforms of life so often without even questioning it. When the only one we should be trusting implicitly is God himself, backed up by the word he left us, the manual, if you like.
I’ve been re-reading Galatians recently and it’s never really hit me as hard before. You see in the New Testament the Apostle Paul, having had the most kick ass conversion in history, is planting churches and moving from place to place to plant more. He writes letters of encouragement to the churches he’s planted but when he hears some disturbing news from the Galatia church he sharpens his quill and sets the record straight.
Following Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection their was a dramatic change to the Jewish faith, the promised Messiah had come, he had fulfilled the law (kept all the commandments and lived a perfect life) and He died for the sins of the world and rose again to life. He had completed the rescue mission, He had removed the barrier between us and God so we could have a direct relationship with him. No longer did you have to go to a priest to confess, you could talk to God yourself, you were free from sin, condemnation and guilt.
So there had to be a change. Jesus came so that the sins of the world, of us, past, present and future may be forgiven. The new churches that Paul planted were based on this – the message of Grace. That we no longer had to sacrifice animals to get rid of our sins, that the ten commandments were now obsolete because Jesus had fulfilled them.
So when Paul hears that some of the former and current Jews at the time were creating conditions to salvation he’s annoyed and steps in. You see the message of Grace is radical, it says that your sins are covered all you have to do is ask Jesus into your heart and you are saved, you’re promised a future in heaven. The Jews however added to this, they began to tell the people they must also do other things to ‘get into God’s good books’. They were spreading a gospel that wasn’t true and that wasn’t the gospel at all. Check it out here.
The sad thing is, we still do this today.
I heard the saddest thing the other day, when talking to someone who hadn’t been in church for a while they said:
‘I just need to get myself right and get back into reading the Bible and stuff before I come back to church.’
What does that even mean? We can’t get ourselves ‘right’ before God, that’s why his grace is so awesome, Jesus, when he lived on Earth never put boundaries on people coming to him, he embraced sitting with those that were seen as outcast, he loved beyond boundaries. If He accepted people as they are, why are we so keen on not accepting that?
I guess what I’m saying in a roundabout way is this:
- Keep questioning, take it back to the Bible and ask yourself ‘Does what that person says ring true? What does the word say about it?’ (no matter who they are or where they preach!)
- Don’t let others put ‘conditions’ on your salvation – The Bible says in John 5:24: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
- Remember God loves you and says come as you are – Don’t get in your own way.