I usually claim that pregnant women should not read books about pregnancy and birth. Their time is too precious. They should, rather, watch the moon and sing to the baby in the womb. — Michel Odent
When it comes to pregnancy and Christianity, everyone has advice. Lots of advice. And for some reason, they feel free to tell you all they think they know—whether you ask for it or not. While they might have good intentions, it feels like they are draining your joy and enslaving you to rules.
If you’re pregnant, it goes down like this: Don’t eat sushi. Don’t drink caffeine. Avoid hot dogs, raw meat, and exercise. But don’t not exercise. Sleep on your side with six pillows. Find a birthing center with a midwife. Reject the epidural. Embrace the pain. Reject the formula. Embrace the cloth diapers, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.
If you are in Christ, legalism can feel a lot like that. The Christian life isn’t lived alone. We live our life with Christ alongside other believers, and some of those believers have plenty of advice on how to live for Christ.
You can be walking with Christ and doing what comes naturally between you and the Spirit. You are filled with Christ. You are growing and He’s showing. You are overjoyed at the changes in your life. It’s more about Him and less about you. And if the two of you could just continue like this until your earthly life was over—well, that would be all joy. But you can be building intimacy with God and learning to let Jesus show, when someone comes in and tells you you’re doing it all wrong.
This went down in Galatia. False teachers came in and told the Galatians they were living life with Christ incompletely. They gave the Galatians a list of rules to go along with that new life in Christ. And somehow, the Galatians became starstruck. Paul called out these false teachers.
Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them. (Galatians 4:17)
What happens when we follow the critics’ advice? When we start to believe that it’s Jesus + Something? We are alienated from the true Gospel: Jesus + Nothing = Everything. And the minute that happens, true joy goes out the window.
Don’t waste a day on any other gospel, for only one births joy.
God, I pray You give me a discerning ear that mutes false gospels, so I can seek only You and show only You. Please, reveal right now where I have let the advice and expectations of others rob me of joy. Let’s go back to just You living through me today. Amen.