Jesus Christ did not die on the cross so we could then earn our way into heaven. He paid that debt, and all he asks is that we surrender to him so that he might work within us to make us holy. He did not ask us to become holy so that he might then love us.
We must constantly remind ourselves that we cannot earn our way into heaven, and aren’t supposed to. We are to focus on building a relationship with the Almighty, and from out that relationship, good acts will pour out from you. Love, kindness, peace, justice … qualities of God will move through you if you’re actually connected to God. If you’re busy trying to do them yourself, what you’re saying is that you don’t need God, and that completely defeats the point of faith.
Religion, not the other hand, doesn’t care about God. It cares about submission to God’s rules and regulations, not a real connection with the Creator of the Universe.
This is a bit like a car trying to drive somewhere without fuel so it doesn’t have to go to the gas station. Humans are built to need God! When you are connected to God, it’s like being connected to a gas station everywhere you go! But you must remain connected, or you will slowly drain your tank and your life will come to a halt.
Waiting to be holy before you reach for God is ass-backwards. You are incapable of becoming holy. You are incapable of being righteous. You are worthless under your own steam. Without the thunderous waterfall of God’s mere presence, you aren’t even a trickle. You’re like a tear, for exactly how sad the concept is you can be good all by yourself.
When we place “being good” as the point, we miss it entirely. The real point is GOD (G-O-D). He IS the point. When you make him the point, everything else will flow out of that pursuit, that relationship, that love. And it won’t be easy, and you won’t always be on top of it. You’re going to screw up, you’re going to misinterpret something he said or you’ll be imagining what you want Him to say. You might forget your need and go wandering off. You might trip into an addiction — new or old. You might make a mistake bigger than burning your hand on a pot, and you may have to spend the rest of your life helping to raise a child you didn’t intend to create. Or pay back a debt for property you destroyed. Or serve time incarcerated for a moment of violence that will define that moment of your life. But at the end of it, all these things are from YOUR strength, YOUR prowess, YOUR wisdom.
God does not expect you to climb the mountain without a belay. He will fuel you, source you, direct you, guide you, shape you, live in and through you, but if and only if you are actually connected!
What does that connection look like? Well, ask yourself this. When you want to connect with someone, what’s the first and simplest way to do that? Conversation, perhaps? Let’s make a simple connection and say that talking to God is your first way to connect. Know what that’s called? Prayer.
Prayer doesn’t need to be an on-your-knees, candle in the corner, speaking in hushed tones in ancient language-kind-of-experience. What we’re discussing here is just plain talking. Talk to him about your day, about your concerns, about your fears, about your hopes. Let him worry about actually connecting with you, you just need to pursue connection with him.
Through that connection, all things become possible. God will change you, change your family, friends and work through you, will change the world. But he doesn’t do it like some arbitrary floating creature, he uses people with whom he’s connected! He wants to use you, change you, give you that abundant life, but you must have an umbilical secured to him! There is no walking alone in a relationship, you must give of yourself and express yourself — even in fear, even in doubt. You see, God’s perfection can handle our imperfection. We can be angry with God, frustrated, hurt. We can express that pain and that concern. He’s a big God! He’d rather you actually talk to him, even if it is yelling and hollering, than give him the cold shoulder! He’s not going to force you to engage with him, but he can’t work through you at all if you won’t even face him.
(When I say can’t or won’t, it’s not saying he’s incapable, but that he acts like a gentleman, and won’t give you a new life and a new soul if you don’t ask for it. He won’t impose himself in such a way, no matter how the church likes to spin that.)
So don’t wait. Don’t use your fear or doubt or anger as an excuse not even to get in the ring. You let God work you out. That requires surrender.
So if there’s ANY thing you’re supposed to do to find holiness? It’s surrendering to God, and letting him do the rest. Cuz trust me, He will do the rest!