Christina Hoover writes an article over at Desiring God that I'm guessing will resonate with many of us. Here are some highlights:
Until my late twenties, I spent the majority of my Christian life striving — striving for perfection, for God’s favor, for the approval of others, and for the joy and freedom that the Bible spoke of yet completely eluded me.
In her forthcoming book, Nothing Is Impossible with God, Rose Marie Miller describes my life as she depicts her own:
The gospel was not my working theology: Mine was moralism and legalism — a religion of duty and self control through human willpower. The goal was self-justification, not the justification by faith in Christ that the gospel offers. But, as many people can tell you, moralism and legalism can “pass” for Christianity, at least outwardly, in the good times. It is only when crises come that you find there is no foundation on which to stand. And crises are what God used to reveal my heart’s true need for him. (4)
Later she writes:
Rose Marie Miller’s husband, Jack, characterized her self-justification as orphanhood: “you act as if you are an orphan. You act as if there is no Father who loves you” (11).
- Orphans have to take care of themselves.
- Orphans must be strong.
- Orphans must protect themselves from being taken advantage of.
- Orphans cannot depend on anyone.
- Orphans cannot be weak.
- Orphans crave to be taken in and loved but doubt they ever will.
- Orphans want to be accepted, to belong.
- Orphans only trust themselves.
- Orphans cannot get too close.
- Orphans are on the outside looking in.
For many years, I was acting as if I were an orphan, trying to do the Christian life but failing miserably. I thought that my failures were my accusation, not realizing that this understanding — that I could not actually live the Christian life myself — was the first step toward liberation. Galatians 3:3 taught me that the Christian life can only be lived by the Spirit: “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”
NO LONGER ORPHANS
The Father advanced toward me, showing me that, in Christ, I am no longer an orphan but his child: “God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4–5).
If we are daughters (and we are, if we are in Christ), we enjoy the love and protection of a perfect Father. He is not an impatient, stingy parent forever irritated at our weaknesses and failures. He invites us into the family, gives us His name, dresses us with righteousness fitting of His family, and erases the ways of our orphanhood, especially our self-reliance and self-justification.
Read the rest here.