Immersed in religion, I struggled with the source of my motivation. Guilt, others expectations, and the desire to please strongly influenced my behavior.
I was party motivated out of wanting to please God, but I was also trying to please others as well.
I had a conversation recently with someone who told me they had been recently baptized twice. His first baptism came as a child, and even though he feels he was a Christian, he chose to be baptized a second time as an adult.
Confused by this I asked him about it.
“So why be baptized again?” I questioned.
“Because nobody expected me to this time. No one demanded me to do it. I chose to do it because I wanted to. There was no coercion or pressure,” he responded.
He chose to be baptized the first time out of a desire to please his parents, friends, and pastors in addition to God. It was the the first step in joining the club.
The second time around he did it because he loved Jesus.
Religion demands certain actions. It asks us to be like everybody else in the church. We go to church. We sing the same songs. We bow our heads at the correct times. We are baptized. We believe. Again, it almost sounds like a formula.
We are basically given the option of being baptized or going to hell, and nobody wants that. So when the pastor calls out for baptisms, we all raise our hands and get in line.
Paul calls the church the bride of Jesus, and at times the church itself can make it feel more like a shotgun wedding.
Duty helps. There are times when the only motivation I can muster is duty. The primary motivation of my heart is love, but I struggle frequently. And when it is cold, duty holds me together.
But imagine what our churches would be like if our actions were motivated less out of duty and more out of love for God and for one another?
The sign up list to volunteer would be full. The offering plate would not be large enough. No guest would go unwelcomed. The poor would have food and clothing. There would be fewer orphans in the world. The baptism waters might stir less, but when they do, it would be beautiful.
The church could stand at the wedding as a loving and beautiful bride.
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