Should vs. Need: How My Life Got Wrecked Today

Halloween is a really interesting holiday.

I’m not here to write about the merits or evils of the holiday. To be honest with you, I kind of like it because you can usually get a bunch of Reese’s Cups for pretty cheap, and those pumpkin-shaped Reese’s are delicious.

882017-largeHalloween is all about, for kids at least (and sometimes adults), dressing up and pretending to be somebody else. The Halloween costume that sticks out in my mind as I write this is one from elementary school, when I dressed up as Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars. I had a brown Jedi robe and a toy blue lightsaber. I thought I was hot stuff. I ran around slaying trees with my blade and Force-pushing my brother over. At least I tried to, he seemed to be resistant.

On Halloween, we pretend to be somebody we’re not. Sometimes I find myself doing that as a Christian.

I do things like study my Bible because I feel like I “should” as a Christian. I pray because, well, if I don’t pray I’m not being a good Christian.  If I’m listening to too much secular music, well, shoot, I should turn on some worship music right away or I’ll stop being a good Christian.

I’ve lived like that for a while. I’m confident in my salvation and in my status as a believer, but I was missing the point. I spent too much time trying to be a good Christian to realize what being a Christian is all about. I thought that would find peace, joy, contentment, satisfaction, my place, things I crave.

But today God rocked me with this truth:

I realized that I need to study the Bible, pray, listen to encouraging and challenging Christian music and have fellowship with other believers not because I “should” do them so I can be a good Christian, but because I need to do those things because I’m a bad Christian.

When I pray, I don’t want to come with the mindset of “Oh, I haven’t prayed today, let me get that out of the way” or “I need to have this deep, big-word-filled, intense prayer so people think I’m spiritual.” I pray because I honestly desperately need the help of the God of the universe, the Creator of all things.

When I read/study the Bible, I hope not to do it with the mindset of “I need to feel good about myself, so let me study the Bible” or “I want people to see me studying the Bible so they know I’m super spiritual.” No. I study the Bible because I honestly desperately need to know who God is, what He says about me and what I need to do to honor and glorify Him and find true joy.

When I listen to Christian music, I don’t want to do it with the mindset of “I need to listen to more Christian music than secular or else I’ve wasted my time” or “I want them to see Hillsong and Lecrae and David Crowder at the top of my Most Played so they know I’m holy.” I listen to music about the gospel, about grace, about God’s love for me because I honestly desperately need to be reminded of those truths when I see my sinfulness.

When I spend time with believers, I hope not to have the mindset of “OK, I’m getting my holy huddle time in for the day” or “I want them to see my righteousness so they know I’m good.” No! I want to spend time with believers because I honestly desperately need encouragement and love and direction and challenges and community.

When I write these posts, I want you to know that I need these words more than anyone else out there. And when I write, maybe, just maybe someone else will be encouraged.

I obey because I need to, not because I “should.” Otherwise I wouldn’t make it. There’s a big difference to pursuing God because we “should” pursue God and pursuing God because we need to pursue God. There’s a need in our souls to be loved, forgiven and accepted by Him, washed in the blood of Jesus every day for our sins. By praying, reading and knowing Scripture, listening to Christian music and being in the company of believers, by obeying God and His Word, we can have that need fulfilled.

There’s a big difference between “should” and “need.” I “should” do something because it’s the right thing to do. I “need” to do something because I’m missing something if I don’t.

In those moments when we see our need and we act on it, we’re developing a rich intimacy with God if we’re genuinely seeking Him in them. It’s not just a going-through-the-motions, checking-it-off-the-list kind of thing. It’s a genuine, “God, I need You. Desperately. So please! Be with me!”

It’s not, “I need to look good, so I’ll do stuff about God.” It’s, “I need to be healed/loved/accepted/forgiven, so I’ll be with God.”

Thing is, if we went off of our performance before God, we’d never pass. Only when we’re credited with the performance of the Perfect Person, Jesus Christ, we’re good.

So I need to, even on the days when I fail in the biggest way or I fail a lot, admit my need for a forgiving Savior, a loving God, a relationship with Him. Admitting who I am, not putting on a show or a costume. And only then will I find peace, joy, contentment, satisfaction, my place.

There have been two songs, with the same title, that I’ve been listening to the last couple days, and I think they’re helpful reminders.


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