Guilt, Grace, Gratitude

John Evans has been part of Christ Church for several years, most recently as a community group leader and office manager, before moving to Atlanta this week to pursue job opportunities. He asked to share this with you about his time in our church:

I started coming to Christ Community Church in the summer of 2008. It was a long road that led me there. Growing up, religion got me what I wanted – but when I got to college, it didn’t. I memorized scripture, I read the books, I even listened to John Piper sermons. Some of it was seeking, but lots of it was stiffness and about halfway through college, I felt the depth of my failure. I sensed the ways I had turned my God into a vending machine – I felt my heart grow hard and eventually my behavior reflected the emptiness inside. I realized, if my relationship with God relied on me living and loving like Jesus I was in big trouble. Mainly because, even if I could control my behavior, I knew I could never control my heart. I hated God’s righteousness and I thought He was angry with me because I could never measure up to the Christian life. I had quietly bought into the idea that Jesus gets us a second chance with God, but it’s up to me the second time around – the noise of life had drowned out the melody of the gospel.

It was about that time I started going to our Church. I went to one Community Group before I decided to join. I found family. I found a worldview called Grace. I began to tap my foot to the phrase, “gospel, community, mission.” As I sat under Matt’s preaching, I heard the power of the gospel – “We are not defined by our performance, we are defined by the performance of Jesus.” Our sin does not write our story, the gospel does. And the gospel is not just for evangelism – the gospel is for Christians! Over and over, I had been asking, “what do I do so that God will love me?” I got my answer, there is nothing I can do – and there is nothing left for me to do. Everything God requires of us, Jesus finished for us. There is daily grace for those who have tried and failed – the ability to succeed AND the freedom to fall short as we strive to follow the God we love!

I wonder how many Christians, like me, still think God is angry at them? Living like a gun is pointed at our head, expecting God to pull the trigger when we mess up. How quickly we forget that all the divine justice that was aimed at us, was emptied on Christ at the cross. We have to continually reaffirm this: Jesus stood in our place condemned, now we stand in His place perfectly loved and accepted by God forever. It is the best deal in the universe, it is a gospel for real life and it is a gospel for real sinners.

Our church has helped open my eyes to the nature of the Christian life, a life spent repenting over my sin and rejoicing over my Savior – resting in undeserved mercy and then fighting to live for the smile of God and the good of others. Today, there is no greater relief than my belief – Jesus died, He rose, He will come again. And I have no greater gift than my relationship with a God who is so good, great, gracious and glorious that… even I cannot help but love Him.

You’re supposed to post these when you join, I’m posting mine after three years of being stunned by God’s relentless pursuit of me through our gospel community. I am unbelievably thankful for Christ Church, my community group, the ministry of Frank Beedle and David Melton, and so many in our family… thank you Matt and Aaron, and most of all, Jesus. Love y’all.

 

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