By Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts
I’m often asked what it means to be a Christian. I don’t find the answer to be as easy as saying, “A follower of Christ.” For me it’s a bit more complicated. Those kinds of pat answers tend to pass right over the nuance of things. And I hate that. I like the details. I like breaking things down and getting at the heart of things.
When I say I’m a follower of Christ, what am I saying? That I’m just like him? That I’ve got all my stuff together? No way.
First of all, I don’t believe that being a follower of Christ is about being perfect. God doesn’t expect perfection from us. No one’s perfect. Jesus himself said, “No one is good—except God alone.” So the only perfect person to walk this earth was Jesus Christ. And the last time I checked, he was the Son of God.
Newsflash: I’m not the Son of God. Neither are you.
That’s why it’s called being “a follower of Christ.” Because we follow after him. And boy is it a journey!
We try to learn from him and from what he says in his Word, the Bible. We try to live like him—caring for those who are less fortunate, speaking with kindness to people, confronting injustice when we see it, and sacrificing everything for one another. From what I understand about the Bible, this is what it means when Peter says, “Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” We follow Christ’s lead, knowing all the while that we have his grace to fall into anytime we need it—anytime we screw up.
And trust me, I reach out for that safety net of grace all too often.
So, no, we can’t be perfect. But we should pursue holiness. That’s the journey we’re on as Christ followers.
Pursue holiness—yes! But also, you can’t set yourself up for failure. You can’t think that when you fail, then you’re cast off by Jesus. That’s not the way grace works.
Grace covers you.
It carries you.
It helps heal you when you’ve fallen.
Grace beautifies the broken road.
You and I—we’re flawed, broken, and screwed up, but it doesn’t matter. Once you accept Jesus as your Savior, you’re sealed with his blood. And there’s nothing on this earth that can separate you from his love.
N O T H I N G.
I love these two verses that remind us of this:
“I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or
dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low,
thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between
us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master
has embraced us.”
—Romans 8:38–39 MSG, italics original
I think being a Christian is a constant learning process. I don’t think you ever perfect it. If you’re open and willing to accept yourself as you are—screw-ups and victories alike—then it’s a process that never really ends. While I was writing this book, I reflected on this truth quite a bit.
The process of growing and maturing, like a tree over its lifetime and through the seasons, looks different at different stages in our lives. When I began my journey in music, I was raw and idealistic. I lived in my passion for music. And that was enough. The world of music was opening up before me, and it captivated me. I was content to immerse myself in it.
But as I grew, life unfolded like the tail feathers of a peacock. I met new people. I fell in love. I got hurt and betrayed. I lost loved ones. I realized that life wasn’t all about music. Music, as it turns out, operates more like a backdrop on a stage. That backdrop remains, maybe changing color every now and again, but it’s the people in front of it who move and shift and gather on the stage of life. I realized that I needed people in my life—that I needed to love and to be loved.
And throughout all the changes, I grew into a new person each and every year. In a lot of ways, I’m the same Jay who stepped onto that stage at the King’s Place on that cold, wintry night. But in more ways, I’m totally different. I’ve taken on new roles—husband, father, friend, producer. I’ve matured.
This is what life looks like. It’s a stage on which the characters enter and then exit stage right. The scenes change, and with every change, you become the person God made you to be. That’s why you may feel differently about something in your life today than you did five or ten years ago. Your convictions have grown as you have grown. Some things may not have seemed important before, but now they may be monumentally important. That’s the way things go. We grow.
All the different phases of life bring this on—kids, marriage, different career opportunities. Your core beliefs shift, change, mature.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that you need to give yourself a break. Life is long, and it’s a growth process. And following Jesus is a growth process too. He’s not expecting you to be perfect. He knows you’re going to grow and change.
Just keep following him.
Taken from Shotgun Angels: My Story of Broken Roads and Unshakable Hope by Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts. Click here to learn more about this title.
Many celebrities are known to say how blessed they are, but when Rascal Flatts’ Jay DeMarcus says it, the word takes on a completely different meaning. From his humble beginnings in Ohio to the spark of early fame in Nashville to a fair share of surprises and setbacks in between, he’s learned firsthand that the blessing only comes through the broken road. And the only thing able to sustain a person along the way is hope.
With no shortage of humor, heart, and off-the-cuff candor, Jay gives readers a backstage pass to the story behind the music and the musician. Along the way, you’ll find the same constant source of strength that he has: hope that is powerful enough to hold you up through whatever twists, turns, or trials come your way. Learn more at ShotgunAngelsBook.com.
Jay DeMarcus is a bassist, vocalist, pianist, producer, and songwriter for the Grammy Award-winning country music band Rascal Flatts.