Christianity is the game of fighting for Identity – Aaron Shaw
Working at this church has its perks. The staff are wonderful, there’s free food, and the ministries I get to work with are fantastic. It’s a blessing to work at Hope. For me, working at a church or working in ministry is a dream. But there’s one thing that is not true about working in ministry: It does not replace your righteousness in Christ and does not give you a free pass on your relationship with God. No matter if you’re an intern, full-time staff, or a pastor.
Through God’s grace, I took my first steps as an intern towards my dream job of working at a church as a pastor. After the first month of working at Hope, I had a sigh of relief, “Ahh, I made it!” And in some ways, I really had! But I slowly began to replace my righteousness in Christ with my job at Hope. My prayer life tanked, my journaling dwindled, my Bible reading became a time for me to gather knowledge to theologically impress people. I felt less of a desire to fear God, pray, and invest in people because my righteousness came through working at Hope, not Jesus.
My life felt dull because my identity was wrapped up within myself and my self-constructed and exalted religious moralism. I had SO MUCH to show to the world because I worked at a church, which OBVIOUSLY means that I’m the most holy christian to walk the earth. Looking back, the danger that this embodied is frightening beyond words. But God gently reminded me half-way through the semester that I wasn’t the holiest Christian ever. He reminded me that I forgot what grace was. That I forgot who Jesus really was. That I forgot about what it meant to be held by Him.
Tears fell as I realized I was doing it all wrong. That I abandoned God and replaced Him with a self-constructed righteousness that didn’t save me at all. In fact, it brought weariness, tiredness, frustration, bitterness, dryness, and resulted with complacency. As God comforted me and showed me what His love was like through Roman’s study, I saw that my identity isn’t in anything I did, do, or will do. My identity is in Jesus and Him alone.
Christianity is not a game of cleaning ourselves up, or “killing sin”, or doing spiritual disciplines. Christianity is putting your faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
No works, no job position, no relationship status, no sermon preached, no spiritual discipline, or money given, can atone for your sin, give you righteousness, or do what Jesus did on the cross. If you’ve bowed your knee to the One True King, He’s set you free from the bondage of sin and the folly need for exalting ourselves and our righteousness. Through faith you fight to believe who you are in Christ (United, loved, saved, given eternal life) and receive surpassing peace and immeasurable joy in your new identity. Then and only then will we find mortification of sin, joy in spiritual discipline, and delight in God.
Working at this church has its perks. The staff are wonderful, there’s free food, and the ministries I get work with are fantastic. But the best part is just being able to be another delighted receiver of immeasurable, amazing, and unmerited saving grace.