Much of 2018 was spent unlearning everything I thought I knew about myself. I viciously analyzed my thought processes, habits, and relationships–most importantly my relationship with God.
For a very long time in my life, I saw God as a sort of genie in the sky–a being who saw everything I did and punished me accordingly. I had a paralyzing, all-consuming fear in my heart thinking of the ways He might be disappointed in me.
I tried and tried to be good enough.
To do more.
To be more.
But I always ended up more fearful of and ultimately more distant from my Creator.
The extreme efforts of essentially trying to earn my salvation only muddied the waters of any sort of relationship I had with God. They ruined my vigor, my confidence, and ultimately my faith.
Going to a university with vastly different views than my own only worsened my anxiety regarding my spiritual state. I ended up spiraling into a constant cycle of guilt, silent questioning, and doubt.
At the beginning of 2018, there were really only a couple things I knew for a fact:
- I am a born-again Christian.
- Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.
These two realities kept me focused and determined. I took the advice of Proverbs to heart and sought much counsel. From people I admire. From those I cherish. And my notions of God were shattered as a result of it.
Keller breaks down each chapter of Galatians verse by verse, allowing the reader to dive deeper into the book. The book (along with a personal study of Galatians, obviously) has radically changed my view of God. It has shaped my view of the Gospel. It’s allowed me to step back and breathe.
For the first time in my life, I’ve been able to rest in the fullness and freedom of Christ.
Here are a few points I’ve come to realize, thanks to my discipleship group’s study so far. Maybe if you’re in the same boat I was, you can garner some insight from this.
- There is one true gospel, and (surprise!) it’s not about us.
- The gospel provides cultural and emotional freedom in the lives of Christians.
- As followers of Christ, we are compelled to live in accordance with Scripture.
- You cannot combine merit and grace to reach salvation.
I’ve tried to use my merits as a means for salvation. I’ve tried finding fulfillment in the things this world has to offer. I’ve gone from one thing to the next, looking for acceptance and validation. No amount of compliments, people-pleasing, or new clothes/makeup/whatever can give me complete joy. Only Jesus.
Just the other day I began listening to a sermon series by John MacArthur for my morning devotions. At one point in the message, MacArthur talks about the times Paul tells us to call God our Abba, or Father (Romans 8, Galatians 4). This term isn’t merely poetic or cute. It has deep and powerful implications for our relationship with God.
Abba is personal. It is endearing. It is loving. With a single word, Paul paints the image of a perfect Father, full of infinite love, longing to have a relationship with His child.
And I now feel fully free to run to Him, despite my past mistakes or my fear of future ones.
P.S. If you have any questions about Keller’s book (or about anything really), I’d love to chat. Feel free to leave a comment or hit the contact button to talk!