He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?
—2 Corinthians 3:6-8
Waking Up in Church to Religious Striving
He looked at me and said, "It happened while I was in church. It was the end of the service, everyone was standing, and so was I. I was doing the same religious thing that everybody else was doing, the same religious thing I had done for over 25 years. My family was there. My mother was there. It was the same place we always went. We did the things they told us we should. The sermons usually either scolded us or berated us.
"That week the sermon had been another 'you're not good enough' sermon. After the sermon, during the final prayer, the thought hit me, 'You know. This is ludicrous. I am never going to be good enough. I've been trying to do all this stuff for 25 years. I have been trying to get better. I've been trying to do more and more and more, but something is just not working.'
"I realized that I had sat there in church hundreds of times, filled with guilt and shame as a result of the sermon, and every time I resolved that I would do better. Each time I determined to do a bunch of stuff that I really believed would make God happier. For all those years I really thought I could influence how God thought about me. All those years I thought it was all about me and what I did or did not do."