When I was younger, I equated much of Christianity & my relationship with God to “the Rules:” things I was supposed to do, & things I was NOT supposed to do. If I followed “the Rules,” I was doing good with God, & if I didn’t, well, I was doing bad. Over time, I got pretty good at keeping “the Rules” & if I would admit it, I was pretty proud of myself. Why? I’m glad you asked.
Because I was good at keeping the Rules I measured myself against other peoples’ abilities at Rule keeping… & , to me, it seemed like most people weren’t as good at me at keeping the Rules. Which made me a ‘better’ Christian. Just about every aspect of my life reflected the fact that I was religious. Went to church & youth group (rarely missed.) I was known for my good behavior.
Except I was mean to people. Judgmental. Arrogant. Unfriendly. I could go on…
My life didn’t reflect Christlikeness – the “God-family traits” that show up in His kids were glaringly absent from most of my interpersonal interactions. I was well on my way to becoming a Pharisee: great at keeping ‘the Rules” while at the same time completely missing the heart of the matter.
The point of following Christ is to become LIKE Christ in how we think, how we act, & how we interact with each other & the rest of the world. It means digging deep into Scripture to allow it to be planted deep in our hearts so that the Holy Spirit can work to apply it & transform our hearts & minds from being selfish, self-focused, self-righteous people to being people who reflect Christ’s love, mercy, compassion, & justice.