I am on a quest to understand who I am. No, I haven’t started a genealogy or signed up for Ancestory.com. I am taking a hiatus from Christian striving to rediscover the gospel.
There’s a story in the Bible about when Jesus’ parents took Him to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Afterward, they left with a caravan and headed home. When they stopped for the night and looked around, they realized they had left Jesus behind in Jerusalem.
Elyse Fitzpatrick, the author of Because He Loves Me, says in some ways we are like Jesus’ parents. Upon salvation, we celebrate Jesus, our Passover Lamb. Then, in an effort to live for Him, we forget what His life, death, and resurrection mean to us. Christian living becomes our focus, and we begin to pursue godliness without much thought of Him. In your pursuit of godliness, have you left Jesus behind?
I once heard someone say what we do doesn’t determine who we are, but who we are should determine what we do. Without knowing who we are post salvation, it’s easy to mix up our who’s for our do’s. We become more focused on our performance for Jesus rather than His performance for us. The result is cranky, burned-out Believers who are so focused on their works they have forgotten it’s His work that saved them, keeps them, and will get them home.
If that doesn’t strike a chord, maybe this will: “If we don’t consciously live in the light of His love, the gospel will be secondary, and Jesus will fade into insignificance. Our faith will become all about us, our performance, and how we think we’re doing. What must we remember? Simply that God loves us so much He crushed His Son so we might be His and His love isn’t based on our worthiness or performance (E. Fitzpatrick).”
Old school psychology believed you should “fake it till you make it.” They thought changing behaviors would eventually change heads and hearts. Then they discovered trying to change someone’s behavior without a head/heart transformation created an unintentional consequence. Get one behavior modified, and another one pops up, just like whack-a-mole. The same thing happens when we focus on our performance instead of Jesus.
When we think we are reading the Bible enough, then our prayer life feels lacking. Focus on the prayer life, then we realize we aren’t thankful enough or worshiping enough. On and on it goes. Without the work of Jesus as our primary focus, the Christian life feels like drudgery when it’s meant to be a joyous celebration.
Here’s what I’ve figured out. By focusing on who Jesus is, what He’s done, and His love for you, you will discover who you really are. You won’t be mistaking your do for your who, and you will finally understand He’s the Who that did the do for you.