One of the beautiful things about the church is that all people are invited. God is ransoming a kingdom for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Revelation 5:9). There will be great diversity in heaven!
God doesn’t call us to be cookie-cutter Christians. We’re all uniquely created, with different personalities, different interests, different gifts and abilities. And the church needs this diversity so that we will together build one another up (1 Corinthians 14:26).
I love that we can come together and just be ourselves. We don’t have to fit a mold. We don’t have to pretend we’re better than we are, because we’re all broken and we all need Jesus as Savior.
And yet, we should also strive to be better than ourselves.
But we don’t do this because we think we HAVE to. We don’t want to become legalists who think that God will only accept us if we live a certain way, or that the church will only accept us if we live a certain way.
No, we want to grow in holiness because Jesus saved us by grace through faith, and therefore we WANT to be like Him.
Our culture today doesn’t get this. They think that the church forces religion onto people. That we’re threatening people with hell if they don’t straighten up. Even a lot of Christians think that’s what their faith is all about.
But the Bible is clear.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:11-14)
God’s grace was given first, then we became eager to do good works, not the other way around.
And yet, when we receive God’s grace, we DO become zealous for good works. We don’t simply say, “I have faith, you have works.” We show our faith by what we do.
In other words, we become better than we were. And this is something we want. Something we strive for.
This, also, is a concept that our culture doesn’t understand. They tell each other, “Don’t ever change for anyone. Just be yourself.” But what about sin? What about pursuing holiness? What about striving to glorify God?
Should a pedophile take that advice? “Just be yourself.” Of course not. How about a serial killer? A thief? A sinner?
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
Not a single one of us is perfect. And yet God loves us. God’s standard is perfection, which we fall far short of, so God came down in the form of a man in order to perfect us. The perfect Son of God died on the cross, and rose from the grave, which instantly perfected all who would trust in Him. And THEN we desire to be perfect, even as God has perfected us.
And yet, even in the midst of that transformation, God doesn’t call anyone to be someone else. As God perfects you, you are still you. You’re unique, and God wants you that way. It shows His creativity and power. So it glorifies God for you to be yourself, and to lose yourself, so that you might find yourself in Christ.
There’s so much more to be said about all this, pertaining to emptying yourself, and using your specific gifts, and each one contributing to the edification of the church, but those are a few thoughts on being yourself.
In the end, you can’t be anyone else.