I FIND NO REST IN RELIGION. PEOPLE TALK ABOUT CHURCH AND SPIRITUALITY AS IF THEY ARE AN OASIS. IN MY LIFE, CHURCH HAS BEEN A DESERT.
You may be confusing Christianity with legalism. Legalism is joyless because legalism is endless. There is always another class to attend, person to teach, mouth to feed. Inmates incarcerated in self-salvation find work but never joy. How could they? They never know when they are finished. Legalism leaches joy.
Grace, however, dispenses peace. The Christian trusts a finished work. I like this quote:
Gone are the exertions of law-keeping, gone the disciplines and asceticisms of legalism, gone the anxiety that having done everything we might not have done enough. We reach the goal not by the stairs but by the lift . . . God pledges his promised righteousness to those who will stop trying to save themselves.
Grace offers rest. Legalism never does.
Max Lucado, Max on Life: Answers and Inspiration for Today’s Questions (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011).
I have just completed a series of lessons on legalism, based on the book of Galatians. They are available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions, as well as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription service. For a medium-sized church, lesson subscriptions are only $10 per teacher per year. Lessons correspond with three of Lifeway’s outlines as well as the International Standard Series.