Growing up in a conservative church was more about what you didn’t do rather than what you DID do. That’s just life. We all have things growing up we need to learn how to adjust. Those things may not need to be tossed overboard. They may just need to be readjusted.
But when you grow up worrying about the things you’re not supposed to do, it creates a bit of a paranoia. I grew up in the days of those end time movies: Thief in the Night, Distant Thunder, Prodigal Planet, etc. I did book reports in high school on such great theological treatises as The Late Great Planet Earth.
Those kinds of books and movies just basically left me paranoid. I was going to think a wrong thought, do a wrong thing, say the wrong word, and POOF! Jesus would come and I was on my way to hell. (And a 14-year-old BOY trying to control thoughts is like teaching a cat to sit.)
That is white-knuckle Christianity. It’s a roller coaster ride and you’re holding onto the crash bar in front of you so tight your knuckles go white. We live in fear of doing the wrong thing.
We are made for freedom. We are born for freedom. Not freedom for our own use. That’s just another form of slavery. Freedom in Christ. Freedom in the Kingdom.
Spiritual formation helps us to bring into our lives what TO do rather than what NOT to do. When we walk in disciplines of prayer, study, celebration, giving, etc., we are putting into our lives patterns of DOING rather than patterns of fearing what NOT to do.
This is being guided by the Spirit (Gal. 5:16). It’s not some mystical thing all the time. It’s practical. It is the Spirit taking us through a “holy boot camp” from time to time, teaching what TO do.
We need Spirit-filled lives that are bent on pursuit of the Beautiful Savior. When we are so caught up with that holy pursuit sin will no longer be attractive. That is the beauty of truly following Christ. That is the beauty of Spirit-filled living.