This was originally posted on August 27, 2008.
The sign guy has another one up. This one reads, "Be blessed. Stay in his favor."
I grew up hearing messages along that line. If you want God to bless you, you had to make sure that you did things that would keep you on his good side. I remember making sure I had confessed any and all sins that I could think of before I would pray for something really big that I wanted from God. I always "searched my heart" before Communion to make sure I was "right with God" so I wouldn't get sick or die. I lived in a carrot and stick relationship with God. The carrot was his blessing if I lived right, and the stick was missing blessings or being punished if I didn't. Even through my teen years when I got involved in things that I shouldn't have, I still held on to the idea of getting "things squared away with God" before I wanted him to bless me in some way.
One of the biggest things the Father has taught me over the years is that he loves and blesses me because he wants to, because I am his child. I am in God's favor because I am in Christ. I did nothing to earn his favor, and I can do nothing to lessen it either. I sin, but my Abba Father loves me far beyond what I can understand. My performance doesn't cause God to love me more or less. I am accepted as a son by the One who is over all, and therefore I want to do those things that are compatible with my standing. I want to do those things that bring glory to my Father and that advance his Kingdom. I don't do those things because I think that doing them will keep me in God's favor and bring his blessing down.
I am through with a performance based religion that keeps its followers in fear that they might knowingly or unknowingly do something that is going to cause God to take his hand off them. I am through with a religion that acts as if God can be manipulated to give favor by man's actions.
I embrace a grace that loves me no matter what, that has already given me God's favor, and that is forming me into the image of Jesus Christ.