What does it mean to “follow after Christ”? I have been pondering this question as I am counseling someone who is wondering if their faith is genuine. Genuine struggle is a part of our faith journey; it is a part of our sanctification process.

However, I have great concern for my perfectionistic brothers and sisters in Christ. It seems so many of them truly struggle with being accepted based on their performance. As they read the Scriptures, they see only the commands and little of the grace! They try to be “good” and are so deeply affected when they fail. Each day they leave their beds with one goal: “to do.” Living this way sucks the joy right out of life. Their days contain one (perceived) failure after the next, and depression quickly sets in as they come to the point where they are not even sure they believe what they thought they believed.

My heart is so heavy and burdened for such as these. My desire is to point them back to the cross, but the cross no longer represents freedom and victory to them; it represents failure on their part. It becomes one more thing they cannot understand or make sense of.

Set aside your personal expectations and rules of performance and return to your first love- Jesus Christ. I do think it is alright to simply rest in Him and allow His grace and love and mercy and acceptance to wash over you and renew your heart and mind. God is in charge of this process in your life, I promise (because HE promises) that you won’t miss a thing. Return to the basics of your relationship with Him and find your purpose there.

Yes, a part of following Christ is doing things. We are to demonstrate the Christ-life within us through the lives we live and how we impact those around us but that is not the focal point of being a Christ follower. Performing all things Christian can become a god, and an idol of the heart and effectively steal away our love for the Lord and our joy.

In a vast majority of cases feelings have become an idol, and have been allowed to rule the persons life. Here is truth: feelings are to be ruled over by the Holy Spirit; and the thoughts, beliefs, and desires of the body are to be filtered through the grid of Scripture. Too many allow their feelings to dictate their reality.

Spiritually they must preach truth to themselves. Consistent reminders of what our unchangeable God says in His own inspired Word about who we are in Christ, our position in Christ, and about our never-ending need for the gospel are vitally important. These desperate hours are designed to bring them back to that great equalizer- the foot of the cross.