living by grace rather than law

I come from a long line of Christians. I say that I am a third generation Christian - as my grandparents (on both sides,) my parents, and myself all profess Jesus as our savior. I grew up always believing in Christ, but it wasn’t until later that I really understood the grace that my savior gives me.  

As I grew up, I was a very legalistic Christian, always looking to the Bible for my checklist of what was good and what was bad. I would take verses from the Bible to justify what I could or couldn’t do and then I would project my beliefs onto my Christian brothers, zealously judging them. I worked out my salvation rather than relying on the grace of the cross.  

When I looked at my life back then I see my Christian walk a lot like Paul before he met Jesus, following the letter of the law and not understanding the spirit of what Jesus was teaching. I looked at verse like John 14:15, where Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commands” and believed that I had to prove my love for Jesus by following all of the commandments.

Sarah & Jerome Peterson

Sarah & Jerome Peterson

It was not really until I started coming to Hiawatha and heard the gospel being preached that I finally understood grace. I went from “I follow the commandments of Jesus so he loves me” to “Jesus loves me and out of that love my good works just naturally flow.” It was that grace that finally freed me from a legalistic lifestyle.

I could stop feeling guilty for my failures and rest in God’s grace. It freed me from having to spend time with God and feeling guilty when I didn’t to a place where I wanted to spend time with Jesus, my savior.  

Before I would avoid God because of my sin. I would feel that I needed to clean up before coming to church or praying. My week would be a struggle to be good and then I would feel guilty and convicted on Sunday morning and repent only to start the week over again struggling.

As I have leaned into God’s grace, I have seen how my savior can now use me. He has brought me the blessing of being able to share my faith with neighbors and co-workers in a way that excites me, rather than terrifying me. I now see how God can use me for his glory, rather than me trying to bring him the glory. I no longer feel the weight of trying to preach his gospel but now I live it and people are seeing God in it. I went from feeling that I had to do everything right for people to be converted to knowing that God doesn’t need me, but chooses to use me as a broken and fallen creature to show his wonderful glory! He uses my weakness and stuttering words to show his perfection in my weakness. I am free to be imperfect because God shows his perfection in that. I now rest in the grace that Jesus did all the work for me and I have nothing left to do.

JEROME PETERSON