I always like the idea of being a better version of myself. When I gaze at the self-help articles and books that adorn my facebook wall or bookshop shelf, it often prompts me to try harder at being a better me.
More confident, kinder, generous, more daring. Just better than this version. It’s funny that when we observe this thinking in the secular world, as Christians it sounds ridiculous to us. Looking at those self-help books with their 10 steps to a better you, we can easily roll our eyes.
But, unfortunately there is a Christian version of this thinking. The “better you” turns into the “better Christian“. How can I be a better Christian? Even, how can I be more like Christ?
The problem starts not so much with the question, but with the answer we give.
How can you be a better Christian? There are two answers. One of them is the law and the other is the Gospel.
What does the law look like? It looks good, it looks righteous. It’s full of things you should do and things you should resolve.
- – You should be reading your bible.
- – You should be praying
- – You should be giving generously
- – You should be meeting with other Christians.
- – You should be sharing the Gospel.
Are you doing those things?
When this is preached, the weight of the law crushes us. It makes us feel guilty and ashamed. And so we try harder. “I will read my bible more, I will go to more christian things. I will resolve to do and be better so that I can become more like Christ. “
This law, leads us to a place of despair or pride. I despair in my inability to uphold these laws, I despair that I am not a better Christian. Or I am proud for reading my bible, proud to give so generously, proud in my good works.
Do you feel that sometimes?
I know I do, striving and trying but failing. Swinging on the pendulum of pride and despair. When the law is preached it crushes and does not bring any comfort.
So, what is a better answer?
The only place of comfort, is in Christ. The Gospel tells us that on the cross, Jesus has fulfilled the law. “It is finished” and that we are to rest in him. He is our Sabbath.
He is the “blessed man” who is “like a tree planted by streams of water” (psalm 1v3) where “Blessed are all who take refuge in Him” (Psalm 2v12).
We are to take refuge in this blessed man and we are to hear the truth of the Gospel again. Christ is enough. His blood is enough. We are to look to Him.
You see, the law crushes us and points out all our failings. If that’s all we hear or preach, it will become a curse for us (Galatians 3:10) and weigh us down. But when we hear the Gospel, it becomes a balm to our soul, showing us that though we have failed, Christ has not. That where we sin, Christ offers forgiveness. That where we feel downcast, he lifts us up.
When we say, we want to be a better Christian, Christ offers himself.
Come to him. Enjoy him. Feast at the communion table, receive the forgiveness of sins, hear the Word of the Lord again and know the truth of the Gospel.
If you are weary, come to Christ, hear the truth of his Word again.
Matthew 11:28 – Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
And you know what you will find? Only by His grace, through our stumbling and messy lives, He begins to change us from one degree of glory to another to be more like him. Our good works are not doing that. But His beautiful grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit, begins to change us.
How wonderful is that? He is doing that, not us.
Christians, find assurance and rest in Christ alone and He will bring you comfort and joy.