Meet my beautiful new friend Anna Jo Baker! She and I are blessed to be members of the same church (The Church of Eleven22) in Jacksonville. We recently met over coffee and she reminded me of myself in my twenties. When God gets a hold of you, it is life-changing and obvious. I am honored to share her gifts with you!
I grew up hearing half of the gospel.
From an early age, I knew that a relationship with God was important – especially in the South. But, I also grew up thinking that if I didn’t follow all of the rules, God would be disappointed in me.
I would beat myself up for not reading my Bible every single day… For not praying as often as I should… For anything and everything that would make God “upset” with me… As if my own works were the measuring stick of how much God actually loved me.
I knew Jesus lived a perfect life, died on the cross to save me from my sin, and rose victoriously three days later – exactly like He said He would – but I quickly went from feeling saved from the rules to feeling saved by the rules.
Growing up, I was labeled as a Goody-Two-Shoes Christian girl with a spotless reputation… It was very rare that I ever got in trouble. My heart just couldn’t handle the thought of messing up or disappointing people. Even when I knew I didn’t do anything wrong but my Mom or Dad’s voice sounded like I was in trouble, I would immediately get anxious. Being a ‘Good Girl’ was something I always prided myself in ever since I was little.
But then, one day, after 20-something years of hearing half of the gospel, a Pastor from Dillon, South Carolina told me the truth.
He said one word that I will never be able to forget, nor would I ever desire to – propitiation.
He spoke the truth of the full and complete gospel to my tired and weary works-based righteousness believing heart as he said, “Because Jesus was the propitiation – a payment that satisfies – God cannot be dissatisfied in you.”Because Jesus was the propitiation – a payment that satisfies – God cannot be dissatisfied in you. #savingfaith #paidmydebt Click To Tweet
WHOA. WHAT? HOW?
I was certain that he stuttered. That he got his words backward or somehow messed up. I was sure that if I didn’t do A, B, and C – in that order – that God would be sad or disappointed in me.
I pictured the God of the universe looking down and shaking his cosmic-sized finger at me for not finding time to read my Bible every minute of every day, for not praying as often as I “should,” or for not fulfilling my “Christian duties.”
And even on the opposite end, I would picture God being so proud of me when I did the things I was supposed to… Like when I read my Bible extra-long, when I held the door open for an elderly woman, or when I told someone I was praying for them (even if I never actually prayed for them… PS. If you tell someone you’re going to pray for them, do it.).
I literally believed this way for 20+ years. This was NOT the gospel and this was NOT what following the Jesus I surrendered to when I was seven was supposed to look like. I was living in works-based righteousness and Jesus didn’t die for me to live that way. I was working overtime on doing things right for my own kingdom when Jesus didn’t die for my kingdom but His.
Maybe you can relate? Maybe you feel like if you don’t do ____, God will be disappointed in you. Or maybe you feel like if you can only do A, B, and C that God will be completely overjoyed for you and that super-Christian thing you did.
But, the beautiful reality is that IF you have surrendered your life to the lordship of Jesus Christ, God cannot be dissatisfied in you.
Did you read that right? It is literally impossible for God to look at you and see anything BUT the perfect righteousness of His Son, Jesus.
I don’t know about you, but that is some good stinkin’ news.
Let me throw in a disclaimer: this does NOT give you a reason to sin or a “get out of jail free” card. But it does give us grace.
Because instead of looking down and shaking a cosmic-sized finger in disappointment, God looks down and smiles over you. The Bible even says that He delights in us and sings over us. How kind, gracious and gentle is He to do such a thing?
So, I say all of this to say that it’s okay… you don’t have to follow all of the rules.
When Jesus died on the cross and said those three famous words, “IT IS FINISHED,” that counted for you and it counted for me. Jesus was the propitiation, the payment that satisfied all of the laws and all of the rules. So now, if you have surrendered your life to Jesus, you don’t have to follow the rules, but rather you will begin to desire to do the things that are good and pure and holy.
Jesus didn’t die for me to go from being bad to being good. He didn’t die for me to follow all of the rules and to live a life that prevented disappointment. He didn’t die for me to work overtime trying to do all of the things that would make me righteous in His eyes. Jesus died so that I could go from death to life. He died to set me free from the bondage of sin and shame. He died so I could be in a sweet and intimate relationship with Him. And guess what… He did the same thing for you.
So I will leave you with a few tidbits of encouragement:
- Jesus isn’t asking for a better version of you. He just wants YOU.
- Jesus knew what He was buying on the cross, He isn’t surprised by your sins, your mistakes, or your efforts to achieve righteousness.
- Don’t be so caught up in trying to be amazing that you aren’t amazed by Jesus and what He did for you…
I hope this leaves you encouraged because, at the end of the day, it is only by the blood of Jesus Christ that God can look down at us and see Jesus’ perfect and complete righteousness. Rest in that!
Isn’t she fabulous?! Be sure to sign up for her website and follow her on Instagram!
Anna Jo is a student, writer, friend, blogger, and Jesus-follower. She is a lover of anything that breeds creativity, aesthetically pleasing Instagram picture spots, sipping at local coffee shops and exploring new places. She writes primarily on her blog at http://discoveringhersoulpurpose.com , as well as on her Instagram (@annajobaker).