As I was approaching my 30th birthday back in January, I started to reflect on a lot, including how my relationship with God has evolved. I’ve been on this journey since I was sixteen years old and there is so much I wish I could go back and tell my sixteen-year-old self, but you know, life doesn’t work that way. So my prayer is that my transparency through reflection can help some of you out.
I want to preface this blog post by first saying that I’d never questioned my faith in God and his son Jesus Christ, but when my faith was eventually questioned, I didn’t know how to defend it. Little did I know, the relationship I had been having with the Lord was legalistic and out of pure emotions.
A Legalistic Relationship
For those of you who don’t know what legalism is, it refers to any doctrine which states salvation comes strictly from adherence to the law; a works-based religion. I don’t think I was on the extreme side of being legalistic, but I did have the mindset that if I followed all of the “rules” of the Bible, then I would be on God’s good side and He would bless me.
I honestly use to think if I followed God’s rules to the “T,” then I was good and I deserved more. I deserved to win. I deserved the things that I sought after. My relationship with God at that time was nothing more than a check-off for being good. I knew it was the right thing to do to be a Christian, but little did I know, my good works wouldn’t get me into heaven and it definitely didn’t make me any different than the next sinner.
Can you imagine how humbled I was? How dare I think that I could live my life by some type of “rule system” that I made the Bible to be? Thinking as long as I live sin free then I’m in a good position with God.
Emotionalism; a relationship based on feelings
My early to mid-twenties taught me that I depended way too much on my church to cultivate a relationship with God. My prayer life was scarce and the time I spent in my Word was even more scarce, but I figured that as long as I went to church every single Sunday, attended Bible study every single Wednesday and was an active servant in my church, then I was straight.
When I did open up my Bible and whispered a prayer, it was out of pure emotion when I was experiencing a certain feeling: anxiety, stress, sadness, anger, etc. Let me be clear. There is nothing wrong with searching the Scriptures during times when we are dealing with an array of emotions. However, when that is the ONLY time you’re in the Word and the ONLY time you’re whispering a prayer to the Lord, you’re only cultivating a relationship with God based off your emotions and that sis (or bro) is just selfish.
Are You Equipped to Defend Your Faith?
In late 2017 a close relative of mine started to take a turn in their relationship with God. Long story short, I thought this person was converting into a Hebrew Israelite. For those of you who don’t know what that is, click here to see what I’m talking about. As my relative changed his own view, he challenged me and I wasn’t ready for it.
I’d never had to defend my faith or explain why I believe in what I believe in. That experience led me to believe that we’re living in a day where we can’t just simply say we are Christians. People want to know why. From New Ageism, to Atheism, Agnostics, Catholicism, etc., we have to know why we choose to surrender to God daily. Why do I give my life to Him?
Milk or Meat?
For the last decade, I had only been living on milk and it was time for me to eat the meat of the Word.
“…for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:23-14 (ESV)
I knew I couldn’t allow this to happen again. The enemy knows scripture. If I call myself a Christian, then it was beyond time for me to dig deep into the Word. It was time for me to set aside the fluffy devotionals and sprinkles of scripture.
For the first time I was truly seeking who God was through His word and not looking for something that soothed an emotion. For the first time in my life I wanted to emerge myself in the Word of God. I woke up with an unquenchable thirst and desire to just get to know the Lord. I still wake up to this feeling.
The Bible isn’t meant for us to pick and choose scriptures that align with our own ideologies and self-identity, but to come to a better understanding of who God is; His nature, His character, His ways. Through that we discover who we actually are in Christ and can identify ourselves through His eyes and not our own.
“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.” - Hebrews 6:1 (ESV)
Cierra Rhodes is a native of Wichita, KS. She currently resides in the
northwest suburbs of Chicago with her husband and three boys. Cierra is a stay-at-home mom, part-time track and field coach and entrepreneur. If she’s not spending time with her family or coaching, you can find her in a book or designing bracelets for her small business, Refined Bracelets. You can connect with Cierra on Instagram.