Pursue Christ Not Christianity

Pursue Christ Not Christianity - The Busy LifeThis past weekend I was at the American Christian Fiction Writer’s conference in Dallas, Texas. I had such a blast getting to know the awesome men and women there. Being around others who share my heart’s interest refreshed and recharged me. I truly encourage you to find some time this week to fellowship with someone (outside of your family) who gets you. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

Fast Friends at ACFW 2015 - The Busy LifeAt a general assembly, the group was asked by Bill Myer (an amazing man of God, you should check out the crazy, awesome things he’s done) what are the things you have to do when you’re a Christian. Here’s the answers that were given:

Must:

  • Go to church
  • Pray
  • Read the Bible
  • Be good

Can’t:

  • Get drunk
  • Smoke
  • Do drugs
  • Curse
  • Have sex

How much fun does that sound? What’s in it for you? Try to sell this idea to yourself, let alone others. It’s next to impossible. Why would you want to devote your life to a list of rules?

But here’s another list:

Pursue Christ Not Christianity - The Busy Life

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Gentleness
  • Faithfulness
  • Self-Control

Now who wouldn’t want more of these? I know I do! But the thing is, we can’t get them on our own. These are the Fruit of the Spirit–the Holy Spirit–and only He can provide these. We just have to give Him more room in our hearts to grow and expand.

I was raised in a wonderful Christian home. And from ages one to seventeen I simply accepted my parents’ beliefs (or what I thought were my parents beliefs) as my own. But I stuck so far into legalism that my faith was dry, my tree did not bear fruit. I struggled with mild depression because I could not find the fruits I so desperately needed in my list of do’s and don’ts.

Pursue Christ Not Christianity - The Busy LifeI had to break free of my parents’ beliefs and find my own. I searched the Bible and I found that some of my assumptions were false, but more importantly I found a deeper relationship with God. One not based on the things going on around me or the things I did, but instead on His love that covers all.  There is nothing I can do to gain or lose His love. It’s already there and it always will be.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19

Just realizing that–and I know, sometimes, I need to realize that every day–opens up our hearts to be filled by Him and His fruit.

Pursue Christ Not Christianity - The Busy LifeI encourage you today, if you are stuck in legalism, if you are drowning in the do’s and don’ts, to reset your focus. Pursue Christ not Christianity. Your life will be fuller and bright and just more than you can imagine. There is truly a difference in the days that I dedicate to Him. He is doing some amazing things in my life right now.

Do you struggle with legalism? Have you found a way to combat it? Please share! How has God been working in your life recently? If you would like me to pray for you, please leave me a note or send me an email. You guys are always in my heart and my prayers. 

Megan D Gonzalez

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By | 2015-09-21T09:07:20+00:00 September 21st, 2015|Encouragement, Faith|21 Comments

About the Author:

I'm a tea-sipping, adventure-seeking, pug-loving kind of girl. I'm crazy for God and want to share his love with awesome girls around the globe.

21 Comments

  1. Ashley L October 11, 2015 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    YESSSSS to this! This is truth. Thank you so much for sharing this message.

  2. Kristin C September 22, 2015 at 12:03 pm - Reply

    This is excellent, fellow Passion Project friend 🙂
    I needed this today. I am really realizing that I have been dry for quite some time now and it’s not because I’m in the wrong place or the wrong time in my life. but rather because I have to give Him room to expand more in my heart!

  3. Kristi September 22, 2015 at 3:01 am - Reply

    I was drowning in legalism for a long time too! And am so thankful for God’s word that brought to light what his will really is and what it is not. Wow! My life is totally different and I am more in love with Jesus with each passing day instead of treading the line of making it or not! Thank you Lord for your patience and willingness to walk that road with me! Now may we encourage others in the same way as you are doing. Great post!

  4. Chelsea Damon September 21, 2015 at 8:22 pm - Reply

    Hi Megan!

    I loved reading this post. I believe that a huge reason so many young people are turned off to Christianity today is because many parents pursued Christianity instead of Christ himself. There’s no passion, love, or relationship unless there is Christ. Great read 🙂

    • Megan Gonzalez September 21, 2015 at 8:37 pm - Reply

      Hi Chelsea! Thank you so much! And I completely agree with you–there is not passion or love without Christ.

  5. Claire Schell September 21, 2015 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    Great post! Could you define legalism How it’s being used here?

    • Megan Gonzalez September 21, 2015 at 7:41 pm - Reply

      Legalism is when you use rules as a standard of your faith/worthiness. Ex: You’re only a “good Christian” if you serve X hours week. Or you’re only a “good Christian” if you read X chapters of the Bible each day. This kind of thinking keeps tracks of all the do’s and don’ts and uses them as a measure of their holiness. Legalism leads a person to believe they must earn God’s love or forgiveness, instead of believing that God’s love is there no matter what.

      When we step away from legalism, we put our belief in God and his power instead of our own. Sure, His commands are still there, but our faith is no longer defined by how well we perform.

  6. Sarah Eliza @ devastateboredom September 21, 2015 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    So true, and so powerful! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

    PS, You have a beautiful blog!!

    • Megan Gonzalez September 21, 2015 at 7:35 pm - Reply

      Thank you Sarah! I really appreciate your kind words 🙂

  7. Danielle Dortch September 21, 2015 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    This is super awesome. I definitely have struggled with legalism over the years, especially going from a more traditional church background. But learning to have a relationship with Jesus over just religion has truly changed my view. I’m super encouraged by this post!

    • Megan Gonzalez September 21, 2015 at 4:06 pm - Reply

      Thank you Danielle! I’m glad I could help encourage you today 🙂 I also grew up in that traditional church background, so I know where you’re coming from!

  8. Gema Diaz September 21, 2015 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    I have stayed away from legalism and I pray I continue to do so. However being around some people who are is exhausting. Even as Christian I feel like they are always judging me. Always telling me that God told them to tell me this and that. May times they aren’t biblically based. But we must continue praying for our church to be free from all religion and full of Christ’s spirit.

    Be blessed
    Gema from Belovedgems.org

    • Megan Gonzalez September 21, 2015 at 4:10 pm - Reply

      You’re doing a great job Gema. Continue to focus on what the Lord is calling you to do. Others will always have opinions, but the one that really matters is Christ. I know how hard it is to feel as if others are judging you. For years I felt I had to be so careful with every little thing that I said or did. I felt the pressure of living in a fishbowl. It was exhausting, like you said. Now I am striving (though not always succeeding) to keep my focus on Christ and not what others think of me.

  9. Brittany Bergman September 21, 2015 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    This is definitely my biggest ongoing struggle in my faith! I know it to be true that reflecting the fruits of the Spirit is not a performance-based, do/don’t effort, but it’s so difficult to live in the love of Christ every day. Thanks for this precious reminder!

    • Megan Gonzalez September 21, 2015 at 4:12 pm - Reply

      It’s so easy to fall into the “I have to earn it” trap! I know I can fall into that mindset far too quickly. I’m so glad this could be a reminder to you (and to me)! Keep fighting that struggle Brittany, it’s worth it!

  10. Chris Carter September 21, 2015 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    Oh what a powerful message here! Legalism truly kills the true spirit of Christ- at least that’s how I see it. When we free ourselves to come to Him raw and real and allow others to feel safe in doing so too- it’s amazing how much fulfillment we can receive in our faith! Those fruits of the Spirit will soar, when we relinquish those lists and banish those bars we sometimes are held captive in.

    Ultimately, the legalistic approach surely builds barriers to our witness, because many many people are unable to meet those expectations and therefore they don’t seek the True message of Christ. Oh, how that breaks my heart! And I’m guessing especially His!

    • Megan Gonzalez September 21, 2015 at 4:15 pm - Reply

      Wow Chris! Thank you so much for your inspiring comment. You have a gift with words 🙂

  11. Tabitha September 21, 2015 at 11:15 am - Reply

    As soon as I saw this title, I knew I was going to love this post.

    I went through this faith revolution in College. It took a while for me to build up from there, but it was the legalism, and the hypocrisy of people who subscribed to it, that nearly destroyed my faith. I began to dislike Christianity because I was seeing poor examples of Christians. They spoke one thing, while doing the other. And those that didn’t do the other seemed to be, well, on a pedestal. They didn’t understand struggles, didn’t understand facing the darkness and struggles, and what comes of that. It left me feeling utterly alone. I had subscribed to the idea of Christianity in the legalist sense my whole life, and there was nothing there for me.

    Now, while I still often find myself disappointed by people, my focus is not on them, but on God. On building a living, breathing relationship with him, and allowing Christ to dictate my life, not Christianity. While much of both align, it’s very different when we’re doing things because of our love for Christ instead of because of a list of rules. It’s a choice of dedication rather than a matter of following or breaking rules.

    • Megan Gonzalez September 21, 2015 at 4:19 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your kind words and for opening up with your experiences. I knew that feeling of being alone and being fed up with hypocrisy. It was so hard, and I’m sorry you had to go through it. But you now have an amazing attitude and outlook. It’s inspiring. Thank you so much for writing 🙂

  12. Rahela September 21, 2015 at 8:38 am - Reply

    Hi,

    I fully understand what you said – We just have to give Him more room in our hearts to grow and expand…But I stuck so far into the legalism that my faith was dry, my tree did not bear fruit. I struggled with mild depression because I could not find the fruits I so desperately needed in my list of do’s and don’ts. My God is alive and save both of us – http://notablemomentsinlife.blogspot.hr/ – but I am also tired of the rules. My friends who are priests wouldn’t agree on that.   I do go to Church, but for ex. I go during the week, not on Sundays. So why this should be wrong?!

    • Megan Gonzalez September 21, 2015 at 9:05 am - Reply

      I totally understand where you’re coming from with the rules Rahela. And being raised in a preacher’s house, my instant reaction is “of course we should go to church on Sundays.” But then I actually think and pray about it, I believe what actually matters is that we’re spending time with God, getting fed, and strengthening our relationship with Him. If you do that better on a different day of the week, then that is between you and God and no one else! Thank you for being so open!

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