Many of us have been taught, “Because He saved me, I owe Him my life.” “He’s been good to me. So, I owe Him ______.” “Jesus died for me; so, I owe Him..” “It’s the least you can do.”
You may have never said this overtly, but this is the foundation of the faith of many people. Before reading further, you might say, “I do what I do for God, because I get to or because I want to.” Maybe. Don’t let that stop you from reading further.
There are many problems with living from this idea of “I owe God.”
- It’s built on conditional love.
The love we experience from YAH is not conditional. We think it is, because we’ve misinterpreted Scripture. Infamously, the passages that speak to the people of Israel saying, “If you do _____, you will be blessed. If you do _____, you will be cursed,” have been understood to list conditions by which YAH exists in relationship with us or what we have to do to make God move or what we shouldn’t do to keep God happy. Then, there are those that completely dismiss it under the impression it has no relevance today. (It is of utmost importance that we understand the true meaning of blessing and cursing; but, that’s for another blog.)
Instead of seeing them as computation sequences for a relationship with YAH, we should study those passages to discover what YAH values (it’s not what a lot of us think).
Additionally, we can study those passages and see them as principles or laws governing everything (and YAH himself). See, YAH is One. He is whole. He is complete. He is holy. Being One is what it means to be holy. YAH is bound to His nature — meaning He cannot and will not act outside of His nature. So, when certain things happen, He will naturally respond a particular way. We never have to guess. He is governed by laws or “ways” that reveal something about who He is intrinsically. He desires for us to walk in those ways — His Way.
Trust in יהוה with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; Know Him in all your ways, And He makes all your paths straight. (Prov. 3:5-6)
- Everything you do is to be a NATURAL response — not a weight placed upon you.
See, this is the issue with Christianity as the system it is. Unknowingly, many, if not most, are living life bearing weight. Many Christians are carrying weights and responsibilities that are not theirs.
You are not the “last Jesus” they’ll see. That’s a weight.
You don’t live a certain way for the appearance of things. That’s a weight.
You should be “here” by now. That’s a weight.
“But, I’m the pastor, so I got to..” That’s a weight.
“I can’t stop working. Leaders don’t stop.” That’s a weight.
The lack of vulnerability in the lives of Christians (the leaders as well).. This is due to a weight.
Most Christians and those brought up under the system of Christianity are still bearing weight. The foundation of their relationship with YAH is, “I’m a sinner and while I know Jesus paid my debt, I’m going to live a life of paying it off by going to church, being nice to my atheist neighbors, by serving in the church, reading my Bible, etc. It’s the least that I can do.”
This was me — a checklist Christian. I had a checklist in my heart of what I needed to do to be considered a good Christian in the eyes of God and man. Many are choosing their church, ministers, friends, music, and ministry based on who and what aligns with the checklist they have in their minds. The checklist we feel we need to create that would yield a “holy” life is due to weight. We’ll think we’re coming further along because we know more Scripture, have been more consistent, etc. We’ll find some sort of validation from man and begin to feel “a little less like a sinner.” In reality, you’re only slipping further and further into slavery. Debt is a weight. To live from a place of “I owe God,” is to live from a place of slavery.
Aside: It has been fascinating to me that many Christians have criticized Jews and Hebrews for following the teachings found toward the front of the Bible due to it being seen as a list of rules and regulations (I was one of them). Meanwhile, Christians have simply created their own lists of rules and regulations and are under the impression YAH is more pleased.
Living from the checklist or passed down doctrine, though common, is unnatural. The book of Romans talks about the invisible evidence that YAH is real. Nature mirrors who YAH is and what He does. No tree’s function is based on this idea, “I owe it to the birds to grow” or “It’s my responsibility to have leaves on my branches.” Instead, they live and function freely and there is a natural result produced. The birds can perch. Certain animals can eat. Humans find shade. Trees function the way they do, because that’s how they were designed. The reason the tree is able to function as it should is because it has first received what it needs.
Much like this, our relationship with YAH functions the same way. My life is a natural response to how I’ve been conditioned to think and see (negative or positive). When I explore the relationship with YAH as my Provider (Father), I receive and am conditioned to think and see as He does. My life begins to transform and I function as I should — freely and wholly — without weight.
3. It positions you to give to God without having truly received. (Whether something has been given matters not if the recipient will not receive it. Let’s see if we’ve really received.)
Think about this for a second: “My life is a natural response to how I’ve been conditioned to think and see.” Another way of thinking about this is: My behavior is a result of how I’ve been conditioned to think and see. My behavior is a result of what I value. See, we all learned a value system as we grew up. We act from this place. Equally, Christians learn a value system in Christianity and act from this place. A step further: My life (my behavior) is my worship. We only get there by exploring relationship with YAH as our Provider.
This is a wide shot of the process and its components: YAH is holy. YAH is Light. Light reveals. Light nurtures. Light causes things to grow. If God is Light and is my Provider, He reveals what is broken and fixes it. If God is my Light and my Provider, He will cause me to grow. If God is Light and my Provider, I will see as He does. I will value what He values. I will function as I am meant to.
The value system of Christianity is backwards and takes its cues from the world around it. Therefore, it cannot produce the process I just laid out above. Many have questioned for years why the Church looks strikingly similar to society. It is built on the same values. Until the foundation is completely rebuilt, the Church will be ineffective.
The emphasis and foundation has long been “doing” and not “being.” That’s one description of the system of Christianity. For example, Christians keep seeing worship as the first 30-minutes of a service (something we do), rather than our lives (who we are). What’s worse is Christians say, “worship is more than a song,” but continue to relegate the “worship experience” to music — saying one thing and doing another. This is the major issue with Christianity. It is a breeding ground for hypocrisy. I’m saying this as one who was very deep in this system of Christianity and am still having to unlearn the slavery and religion I didn’t think I was learning all that time.
Taking up the stance of “I owe God,” is to say many different things at the same time. It is to say: God requires something of me. I am in debt. I have something of value to give God. God needs me. God is lacking. The list goes on.
It is most interesting to study the Torah and see how YAH instructed Israel to handle debt. YAH understands that a person cannot ever truly be free if they are in debt. This is why our relationship with Him is not based off of debt. Our relationship with Him is based on trust. Society is built on debt/credit and is predicated on a lack of trust and value of people, hence the interest rates and fees.
If you have not learned YAH as your Provider (Father), you have not yet received. If you have not experienced YAH as your Provider, you will accept the weight of providing for yourself (hence the checklist; an attempt to provide validation for yourself). Many of us think we know Him as Provider because we can recount a time or two we were blessed financially or with an opportunity. Unfortunately, we’ll claim He provided for us in those moments, but won’t let Him provide true validation (we’ll keep seeking it from man). We’ll keep seeking validation through traditions and habitual practices. We’ll refuse to be vulnerable because our standing with Him depends upon us being our “very best.” If you have not learned YAH as your Provider, you have nothing to give.
This means all your religion has been given from an empty place. Religion is always empty. So, you’ll likely return to the altar still feeling like you’re not good enough. You’ll likely return to the altar to “rededicate” your life to Him. You’ll likely return to the altar to have an emotional experience through worship. You’ll likely return to that church service faithfully to never jeopardize the validation that comes from man.
The foundation upon which you’ve built your faith could be what’s keeping you from experiencing true freedom. If you are willing to examine your heart over the next year for any ideology that says, “I owe God” or “I owe God because __,” do it. There’s so much freedom on the other side!
You don’t owe God anything.