I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase “I’ve been a Christian my whole life.” It’s usually in response to a question about where someone stands with their faith.

Understandably, it is an idiomatic phrase, but it drives me crazy. Because the underlying mindset behind this response is one of security and comfort. It’s like a safety net that we as Christians throw out if anyone challenges us on our faith.

The problem with this phrase is not in its matter-of-fact nature, but in its tendency to cause stagnation in spiritual growth. What we are really saying when we repeat that coveted phrase is not that we know our need for a Savior, but rather that we no longer have need for one.

The reason I can speak so candidly on this topic is that I’m the main culprit. I couldn’t even count how many times I’ve thrown out that phrase at someone, causing both of us to think that I’m OK living a joyless, hopeless, satisfactory life. But Jesus.

Jesus said that He came so that we could have life and life more abundantly. This stands in direct contrast to the lives many of us live today. So if that’s the case, what or who is keeping us from “living life to the fullest?”

We are.

By saying that we’ve been Christians our whole lives, and not actively seeking revelation of God’s word, we are doing ourselves and our Savior a disservice. “I paid the price for your sins, now live freely with faith, hope, and love!” That’s my paraphrased version of what Jesus said. But instead of living lives free from guilt and condemnation and fear, we are living lives FULL of those things.

The only way to live the life of joy, peace, and grace is to have faith that Jesus’ death and His blood shed on the cross was enough to cover each and every one of our sins—once and for all. Until we realize this, we will continue to live life unsure and unfocused.

So if we have “been a Christian our whole life,” it’s about time we started acting like it. Not by our good works, which are like filthy rags to God, but by our faith in the fact that God loved us enough to sacrifice His own Son to pay the penalty, once and for all, for our sins. There’s freedom in that folks. Let’s start living like it.