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By Chuck Collins
June 21, 2022

Dear new believer,

Welcome to his family! The Bible tells us that there is rejoicing in heaven over the change in your life!! You are free, and It is exciting to share God's love with you.

When I first heard and believed, so long ago, I was told that new believers must rush to do certain things to get settled in the Christian life. "You should read your Bible and pray every day," I was told. "Find a Bible-believing church and join it, join an accountability group and share your testimony with others."

It made sense. If I was to grow, I needed to apply myself to doing Christian things. I had no idea, however, just how long that "to do" list of things is! It could fill a book - it does fill books, all the things I needed to do. Including being nicer, and trying harder and doing more for God - like tithing, helping the poor, teaching Sunday school, and possibly becoming a missionary in Bangladesh if we had a missionary guest preacher that Sunday! And in some churches we hear weekly add-ons to the "to do" list from the pulpit - an impossible mountain to climb in these bare feet, if you ask me!

While all this was well-intentioned church advice, it took me many years to learn that God doesn't want me doing anything before he wants me. He wants you! You see, the gospel that changed your heart and mine is not dependent on our faithfulness, but on God's faithfulness. I wish that someone had taken me aside back then to explain who I am in Christ and the sheer wonder of being "in Christ."

The church put on me a heavy weight of duty before they explained to me my new identity. In Christ, the most important thing settled is our identity: who we are, and how the Christian life then becomes a matter of living from that truth. It's not about mounting the treadmill of pietism and moral improvement, but heart-felt gratitude for our new identity as God's adopted children.

We don't have to become the kind of person God will accept because we are already accepted! "Being" leads to "living," of course, but there's no living apart from being that doesn't soon become a drudgery. John Steinbeck (East of Eden) was right, "And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good."

Coming to see Christianity from your identity in Christ, rather than your performance for him, is what I missed for many of my early Christian years. So this is my advice to you as a new believer: don't get being and doing backwards. Don't do a thing until you have time to contemplate and appreciate what was done for you in Christ. Go on a long retreat, take long walks to "behold what manner of love the Father have given unto us that we should be called the children of God" ( 1 Jn 3). That "there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. That nothing in all of creation can separate you from the love of God (Rom. because "you have been blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" (Eph 1).

And once the "it is finished" message is the song that runs in the background of your life, then the disciplines of the Christian life will breath with life and joy. It's not moral progress that makes you a Christian, but God's love. Start then by resting in God's approval of you. This is your new identity. You are his beloved and he sings over you with gladness!


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