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Tampa Bay Rays

Brian Miller

If you’ve read the prodigal son story (Luke 15:11-32 MSG), I was the older son.  I was always known as the “good kid” in school: made great grades, was good at sports, friends with all the teachers and had lots of friends, etc. If my friends wanted to go to a party their parents would have to know I was going before they got permission. Because I was the good kid... and I could keep someone out of trouble. I took great pride in being put on a pedestal. I did not know God; but I thought in order to be accepted by Him you needed to do good things and be “better” than most people.  These attitudes became self-righteousness and secret sin cultivating a ton of guilt and shame. I was able to keep up the “perfect kid” illusion to the public but was failing everywhere else.

A Christian friend of mine invited me to a bible study through the book of Romans. The study brought up many questions about who God was and what Christ did on the cross. For the first time I questioned what that meant for my sin and me. My testimony isn’t one of a dramatic rock bottom moment.  After about 2 years of questioning, seeking, and God actively pursuing me I finally surrendered my life to Christ during my sophomore year of college. I was able to see that my right standing before God did not come from my actions but from Christ’s perfect sacrifice.  God’s unmerited favor was bigger than anything I could ever do wrong. This gave me a great freedom from the heaviness of shame and guilt. Now my life is filled with joy. I learned that it is no longer all about me but I have a purpose for the God of the universe. I read this verse periodically to remind me of who I am now and forever. My prayer is that you would come to known this is true for you too.

Galatians 2: 19-21 (the Message)

19-21 What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man”so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.