I wonder how many Christians have thought I should do this, I ought to do that, I must do this, or I have to do that? I did, but I’m learning this kind of thinking is not part of His life and fullness.
Here are a few of the things that require the have to, the should, the must, the ought: tradition, religion, guilt, fear, condemnation, performance, man-pleasing, fear of man, shame, religious zeal, misunderstanding, ignorance.
This is how it often happens. Someone says ‘Yes!’ to His wonderful love. Then their friend who introduced them to Jesus or the church they attend now says:
To grow in your faith – YOU SHOULD
- go to church every Sunday
- go to other services – Sunday night, Wednesday night, Sunday school, or whenever the brethren gather at church
- have a quiet time every day – set this time aside only for the Lord
- read your Bible – perhaps even do the system where you read through the entire Bible in a year
- go to Bible studies – preferably at the church
- attend a small group to make friends, to rehash the pastor’s sermon, to follow some other agenda decided by leadership for your spiritual growth
- learn how to pray, make sure you pray, and of course attend prayer meetings – if you want God to hear you and answer your prayers
- if you really want God to do something for you then fast, in fact the longer the fast the more effective it will be
- be accountable to someone – someone needs to watch over your soul
- make sure you are under a pastor – you need a covering
- honor those in authority over you in the Lord
- submit to the spiritual leadership in the church you attend
- don’t rob God – make sure you tithe 10% to your church so God will bless you (is that on net or gross?), that way you will not be under a curse as stated in Malachi 3:8-11
- become a member of the church – this shows commitment to the church and love for God
- volunteer with your time and energy because there are so many needs in the church’s programs and ministries
- learn how to worship, then spend time privately and corporately worshiping God – you know that is why He made you, to worship Him
- make sure you evangelize – it’s about getting people to heaven because we sure don’t want them to go to hell – so share the gospel and save the lost
- confess your sins to be saved
- keep all of God’s commandments
Now some of these Christian shoulds seem right. But many are a mixture and some are not even Biblical under the New Covenant in Christ. The mixtures are from religion, tradition, and the world. A mixture is not truth, it is half truth and half lie. So how can we come to the right conclusion if we believe a mixture? Not only will the conclusion be incorrect, but if we still hang on to it, we will come under deception.
A friend of mine, who is also growing in fullness, cried out, as we talked about all the things Christians are expected to do, “God is the most exhausting person I know! I have all these balls to juggle, I drop them, pick them up again, try to juggle again. I’m exhausted!!!” Anyone worn out trying to perform and please?
Granted it is handy to have a list of shoulds that we can check off. They bring a sense of personal accomplishment and we can show that list to God. We might even show it off to others! When we show it to God we now assume He will owe us and bless us. This is not fullness, this is striving and manipulation.
Some Christians and even non-Christians believe God has a list, kind of like Santa Claus. “He’s making a list and checking it twice; gonna find out who’s naughty and nice.” This thinking is not fullness. It keeps us from knowing and receiving His unconditional love. This kind of belief distorts who He is. I assure you, God does not have a list!
There is one other kind of list that is easy to make. We tend to keep a list of all the things we have done wrong. Because of this list we believe God can’t possibly love us or be pleased with us. Once again, this smacks against the truth of God’s unconditional love. The enemy and his demons even help us make this kind of list through guilt, condemnation, shame, and fear. In fact, would you believe even the church system uses guilt and fear. A double whammy!
Instead of lists, how about a banner?!
What a great reminder! A maxim worth heeding. Get the play on words?
By the way, there is another banner worth noting – ‘His banner over me is love.’ Song of Solomon 2:4
- If you have had a lot of shoulds dumped on you, or you’ve dumped on yourself – begin to realize they are not part of His yoke. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Mt 11:28-30 Boy, do we need to understand this truth!
- Start asking the Lord to show you your shoulds, even the subtle ones. Then ask Him to set you free from your shoulds. He wants you to walk according to the Spirit and not according to the letter of the law. The Spirit gives life, the letter kills. 2Cor 3:6
- Relationship is key with God – His heart in sending Jesus was to bring reconciliation and fullness of life – not requirements. Salvation in Jesus has nothing to do with have to do or should, but all about ‘being with’ and ‘receiving’ - out of which comes fullness.
For those who may be offended at my list of ‘shoulds’ please give me time to expound in forthcoming posts. On the other hand there may be those sensing a ‘sigh of relief’ is on the way. Hey, you might think of some ‘shoulds’ or wonder if something is a ‘should’ – please comment. We can all get more free together! Indeed, as Paul loudly proclaims in Galatians 5:1 – ‘It was for freedom that Christ has set us free!’ My goodness, do we even know what that means? Let’s find out because it’s part of growing in fullness.