Last summer, I wrote a blog post titled “It’s Not About Me.” An excerpt:
But the Christian life is about Jesus. It’s not about me. When we get so caught up in our obedience or our sin or our spectacular quiet time or our lack of intimacy with God, we get so self-focused that we forget who the focus of our attention should be: Jesus.
Fighting sin and growing in godliness is not about me fixing me, it’s about God shaping me to be the man I’m supposed to be. I’m responsible in the matter, but it’s God who’s given me the Holy Spirit and the power to obey.
We don’t obey because we can; “None is righteous, no not one; no understands; no one seeks for God,” Romans 3:10-11 says. We obey because God changes our hearts and causes us to desire the things He desires; because we are on our own unrighteous, it follows that we can’t obey unless God changes us.
My identity is not about my personality or my relationship status or my track record of obedience, it’s about God showing me grace and mercy I didn’t deserve and adopting me as His son.
I still believe that. But I want to amend the attitude with which I approached the subject.
I’m a guy who loves to get the point of things, down to what we’re supposed to take away. And as I’ve thought more and more about what I believe and what the Bible says over the last few months, I can’t escape this: everything about Christianity is for me. I’ll explain.
Jesus died on the cross for me.
When speaking to His disciples at the Lord’s Supper about the cup, Jesus says, “For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Jesus’ blood was shed so that my sins could be forgiven; ultimately, so I could inherit a relationship with God that could last for eternity. Jesus didn’t have to die on the cross so He could be forgiven or so that God could get more glory. It’s not like God’s glory was incomplete before Christ died. The point is this: He died so that I could benefit from having access to a relationship with God, and complete forgiveness of sins. Without the sacrifice of Christ, I would be lost.
The Bible was written for me.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Scripture is about showing us humans how to live in a way that glorifies God and, most importantly, what it takes to have an unstained relationship with God. Without the Bible, I would be lost.
Pastors preach and authors write for me.
The early church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). They didn’t just do this so they could be considered “good Christians,” I’d wager. I’d wager they wanted to grow, they wanted to be bettered. In the same way, pastors and authors of today minister to their audiences, hoping to point them to the truths found in Scripture and the joy found in following Jesus. The point is so people know Jesus better. Without this kind of ministry, I would be lost.
Community and fellowship exist for me.
Galatians 6:2 insists: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” I am in desperate need of brothers and sisters in Christ around me to help me see where I’m falling short, to encourage me, to challenge me, to pray for me, to love me. The point of community and fellowship is that I would not be alone in this race we call life. Without community and fellowship, I would be lost.
Jesus gives hope for me.
Without Christ, I am hopeless. I have no hope of anything good beyond this life. But because of my relationship with Jesus, I have hope, and Romans 5:5 tells me “hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Without this hope, I would be lost.
And this is where Christianity is, at a point, a very selfish religion. It would be foolish for me to sit here and say everything I do in following Jesus is all for God and is not considering myself at all. I trust Jesus because I need Him! I’m lost without Him! I have nothing to hold onto on this earth without Him!
The last few years, I would feel guilty if I spent any amount of time thinking about how anything I did benefitted me. It is true that there are many things I do that benefit me in a sinful way. Any sin, for instance, falls in that category. I became a Christian unconcerned with my own growth and my own satisfaction in Christ. Instead, I was “all about” God and trying to do things the right way so that He would be pleased. But I would fall short so much that eventually my well ran dry. My motivation was gone. I had nothing to bring.
I reached that breaking point and had a realization: it’s good to think about how being a Christian benefits you. The breaking point came when I realized that I could not, in good conscience, tell someone how being a Christian was good for me. I got so burnt out that I had no good answer for “Why do you follow Jesus?” other than “It’s the right thing to do.” It took me getting to that point to realize this: I follow Jesus because He gives ME all the answers I need, He gives ME hope in this life and the next, He gives ME purpose and direction, He gives ME joy in a fairly joyless life, He gives ME relief from depression, He gives ME a family I’ll have for all eternity.
He did it all for ME.
Christianity is not about us being good enough for Jesus. It’s about Jesus being good enough FOR ME. The target and attention of everything Jesus did and does was and is ME. It’s for me. It’s not about me. But it’s for me. And that gives me hope. God doesn’t do things just for Himself. He has us very much in mind.