As moms do we believe in a false gospel? A gospel of "shoulds"?
Do we think that our worth as women is tied to how clean our house is, how obedient are children are, or anything other than Christ and His perfection?
Are we driving ourselves to meet some inner standard or to avoid the disdain of certain other women we know?
Are we at the brink of exhaustion, collapse, and despair because we can't keep up with a perceived standard?
Jesus says His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Friends, I have lived for years trying to be the perfect wife, mother, friend, and Christian. I never reached that goal. All I found was guilt, shame, and brokenness. I didn't understand why the "gospel" didn't seem like good news anymore.
My husband and I are studying Galatians together and we read this recently:
" I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:6-9
Keller writes: "If you add anything to Christ as a requirement for
acceptance with God-- if you start to say : To be saved I need the grace
of Christ plus something else-- you completely reverse the gospel and
make it null and void." (Galatians For You)
Now I know that I had perverted the Gospel! It was not good news at all. It was a long list of things I needed to to do to prove my worth-- to God, to my husband, to myself, and to others.
I was trapped in a bog of pride, envy, comparison, and judgement.
When you live according to a set of standards you measure yourself and others against that standard. I compared myself to other women, judging and condemning those who weren't conforming to my arbitrary, unspoken standard and feeling envy and despair when I observed women who were doing better than I was.
It was no gospel at all.
Instead of living to bask in and share God's love and grace I was living to try to justify myself. But it was so insidious I couldn't even see it. I would have told you everything I was doing was to serve God. But the heart is deceitful above all things. My husband asked me a very important question: WHY do you need to do x, y, and z? Do you think that is what gives you worth?
"..[T]o alter the gospel the gospel is to play with eternal life and
"....[F]ear, anxiety, and guilt (the sense of condemnation and curse)
will always be attached to different 'gospels'."
"....[E]ven Christians sometimes experience a sense of condemnation. When they
do it is because, functionally, they are trusting in different 'gospels', different ways to earn salvation."
(Tim Keller, Galatians For
It is easy to point out certain idols- money, power, fame, drugs, sex, etc.
But many of the idols Christian women have are good things-- even things commanded by the Bible! (The Pharisees were experts in the law and in obeying God's commands, but they still missed the boat completely. They were trusting in their works and when God revealed His true plan of salvation to them, they rejected it, clinging to their own capabilities.)
Do you have a Jesus + mentality?
I need to believe in the work of Jesus and....
make nutritious, organic, whole food, homemade meals nightly.
homeschool my kids using the right curriculum and methodology.
volunteer at my child's school to make Pinterest worthy snacks.
have beautiful dinner parties.
always say the right thing.
sew my children elaborate costumes.
be slim, fit and sexually engaged with my husband.
have a coordinated nursery, video baby monitor, and high quality rear-facing car seat, properly installed.
make my children obey me the first time with a cheerful attitude.
be smart and funny.
plan many enrichment activities for my children.
have no debt, pay cash, and coupon faithfully.
cloth-diaper my babies.
teach Sunday School or work in the nursery.
bake my own whole-grain bread.
run a clean and tastefully appointed home.
own a successful home business.
create the perfectly coordinated birthday party.
use only green, sustainable fair-trade products.
have organized closets and drawers.
juggle it all and work outside the home.
stay at home with my children.
breastfeed for a year.
be a Proverbs 31 woman.
engage in weekly hospitality.
make it to library story time every week.
never make mistakes.
do family worship every night.
run a marathon or a 10K.
elegantly handcraft all my Christmas gifts.
always answer my children calmly and patiently.
garden and can every year.
take gorgeous photographs of my children, beautiful home, and my amazing meals.
always submit to my husband.
have a stockpile of food and household supplies.
give my children adorable, brand-name clothing with matching hair bows.
be a successful mommy blogger.
Do you feel a sense of guilt or shame as you read that list? Did anything jump out at you? Is it possible that there is something you are turning to other than Jesus to find your identity, security or worth?
Is their something you are so driven to accomplish that there will be no peace if it doesn't happen?
These good things can actually become damnable. We can create an idolatrous, false gospel in the name of self-sacrifice. Our family will not benefit from all our striving for them if we are doing it as idolatry.
Jesus' work is sufficient.
"Christ's death was not just a general sacrifice, but a substitutionary one. He did not merely buy us a "second chance" giving us another opportunity to get life right and stay right with God. He did all we needed to do, but cannot do. If Jesus' death really paid for our sins on our behalf, we can never fall back into condemnation. Why? Because God would then be two getting payments for the same sin, which is unjust! Jesus did all we should have done, in our place, so that when He becomes our Savior, we are absolutely free from penalty or condemnation." (Keller)
It is SO freeing to throw all of that away! I feel happy because I know that when I mess up, it is OK. It frees me to actually do what GOD has called me to do that day instead of worrying about everything I "should" be accomplishing or how I will be perceived or how is it all going to turn out.
Just love God. Receive your identity from Him. Believe what he says about who you are: a new creation, a beautiful bride, a beloved child. Trust in Christ's work on the cross and know that your failures don't matter anymore. We don't need to be hung up on the wrong the we did last week-- punishing ourselves for it, covering it up, agonizing over it. It is paid for.
We don't need to prove that we are better than anybody else. We are same. Lost in sin, until the Savior saved us. Jesus paid for their sin too.
We just need to lift up our eyes and say "Ready for orders, Lord!"
What is your mommy idol? Lay aside your agenda today and rejoice in who you are in Christ.