Jim had been coming to the pastor for counseling for several months. Though he had been doing all the home work the Pastor asked him to do, nothing seemed to help. Finally, Jim became frustrated with his situation. “I read my Bible every day for one solid hour, and nothing has changed.” Jim said. “You told me that if I read my Bible every day for an hour, my life would change and I would stop doing all these sinful things. You said that I would love my wife, my job, and my children and they would love and respect me in return.”
“That’s close to what I said, but not exactly,” said the pastor, “You’re still missing the most important point.” “You’re still doing what you do in order to get something for yourself. You are still at the center of all your dreams and aspirations. You are still the focus of your life and the idol of your heart.”
What you have done is set up a series of hoops that you think you need to jump through so God will bless you. But it isn’t God’s blessing that you are after, it is you being blessed. You are trying to manipulate God, trying to get him to do what you want by doing what you think will make him happy, to placate him.
“What you still don’t understand is that this is exactly what every religious group and philosophical system in the world does. They avoid submitting to God by setting up a system of works through which they try to manipulate the god they serve. When Christians to this we call it pietism, and legalism.”
“The Gospel shines on us when we realize there isn’t anything we can to do make God happy. We are abject failures. There isn’t anything, zilch, nadda, nothing we can to do manipulate God into liking us or blessing us. God made provision for this in the death of his dear Son, Jesus. Nothing we could ever do could out placate God’s wrath against us than Jesus’ death on the cross.”
“The Gospel shines in us when we stop trying to impress God and simply live with him, in his presence every day, all day. The Apostle said bad company corrupts good morals, and Jesus said we become like our teachers. What this, among a million other verses, says to us is that we naturally become like those we hang around with. So, if you want to treat others like God tells you to treat them, watch how God treats other people. If you want to be treated like God, act like God. If you want to watch and act like God, spend time with God. It’s pretty simple really.”
“That all sounds pretty good,” Jim responded, “But what can I do to change my life?” “Well, for starters, read your Bible for an hour every day.” This reminds us to confess our sins.