"Obedience". A word Christian religion (or any religion, for that matter) is fascinated about. I have searched the Bible looking for the various techniques to implement obedience as I began my serious Christian walk. Later on, I found this verse : "train yourself to be godly" ( 1 Timothy 4:7). I heard it over and over from a radio preacher and every single time I listened to his sermon, I used to get all motivated. Motivated to 'train' myself to be godly. I figured out that, what is lacking in my Christian life was nothing but a strict, hard-core obedience. if I can make that happen, I would be the most happiest person in the world, I thought.
I pictured myself as a person preparing for an Olympic race. The preacher kept on preaching about the pain, struggle and commitment each Olympic medal winner goes through before they get to their final race. He said, its all worth when we win.
I wanted to win the gold medal. You know, at the time of judgment.
I considered Bible as my coach. I looked for instructions - moral, spiritual, social, behavioral, even dietary guidelines (there was time in my life I stopped eating pork). At any cost, I had to win in the final analysis.
As I jumped through each loops of obedience, I felt so good. I felt proud about myself. I felt proud about my religion. As a result of being strong, committed and ultra self-righteous, I started looking down on people who didn't obey like I did. You know, those sinners! I knew they were going to burn in hell. I couldn't wait to see that.
I had this picture in my mind that God is going to weigh all our obedience on a scale and then make a decision about our eternity.
Can you relate to the never ending cycle of self-analysis? Analyzing each thoughts, decisions and actions. It is a pre-occupation with self. If you had to watch my life, the destructive narcissism was so evident in everything I said and did.
In all my vigorous 'godliness-training', I missed the whole point. Each day, I was dragging my filthy rags to God and making myself a fool for missing out His love and the forgiveness provided on the cross. I labored from the OT premise of "master-slave" mentality and terribly failed to see the beautiful, new covenant-based "Father-son" relationship.
Each time I declared my righteousness through obedience, I was making the cross of Christ a mockery.
Within few years, I was burned out. I felt miserable like hell. As I failed more and more in my attempts to obey, my self-righteousness started turning into self-hatred. The more I failed, the more I felt like rejected by God. My question was, I am genuinely trying to obey His tenants, why is he letting me fail?
It was a never ending cycle of self-righteousness, arrogance, pride, self-pettiness and depression.
I don't want to go there anymore. I am learning to live from the Life within. I want to to be internally driven, not externally. There are no abilities residing in my flesh to live a righteous Christian life, so I leave it to Jesus who lives in me. I am going to trust Him to do it for me, through me. After all, he has called us to a rest (Sabbath rest), not to a struggle.