Escondido, CA

‘Setting the record straight’



Last week I wrote about the funda­mental difference between Christianity and other faiths. (This week I felt it nec­essary to elaborate.) Unlike Christian­ity, other faiths have developed practic­es, rituals, and concepts in their attempt to earn God’s acceptance. This is called “atonement.”

Atonement is defined as repara­tion for a wrong in the hopes of being reconciled to a holy and just God. In Christianity there is also atonement, of course, but the fundamental difference is that we are made right with God by virtue of our faith in the work of Jesus Christ, not by following said practices, rituals, or concepts. In other words, we don’t “work” to earn our acceptance; rather, we trust in the work that Jesus performed in BEING our atonement (1 John 2:2 – NIV)! In Christianity there is no need to perform any act of penance or become reincarnated or obey a cov­enant or follow a code of law in order to be accepted by God.

That phrase “code of law” just struck me. Christianity has a code of law if you will (Galatians 6:2), yet it is not obeyed in order to appease God and thwart His wrath! Rather, it is naturally obeyed out of a love relationship with Him borne out of our faith in Jesus.

The following story describes this truth well:

There was once a woman married to a man who had a list of rules for her to obey if she desired a harmonious rela­tionship with him. She tried her best to make the bed every morning and to en­sure that dinner was on the table every evening. During the day, she worked hard to keep the house clean according to her husband’s standards. She only ate what was acceptable and she kept herself fit. She never interrupted him in conversation. On and on the list went.

The thing was that she never could obey all of the rules perfectly. The marriage, as you can imagine, wasn’t the fairy-tale ex­istence she had always dreamed about.

Well, one day her husband unexpect­edly died. She then married a man who loved her in a way that was indescribable. He adored her and would do anything for her. He ensured that all of her needs and even desires were met.

One day as she was cleaning out the kitchen drawers she came across that old list of rules from her previous mar­riage. She was amazed to realize that she was naturally obeying all of them out of love, even though her present husband had never made mention of them! (He didn’t need to for she was well aware of what they were.) And they lived happily thereafter.

In the story, the first husband – let’s call him Mr. Religion – and his rules comprise of any system of practices, rituals, and concepts that have been concocted throughout the history of humanity in a vain attempt to reconcile with a holy and just God. When her first husband died, she was set free from Mr. Religion to marry her second husband, Mr. Grace.

She was so enraptured by the indescrib­able love of Mr. Grace that she only de­sired to love him back with all her heart, mind, soul, and strength (Matthew 22:36- 40), which by the way, resulted in follow­ing all of those old rules (John 14:23).

Mr. Grace, my friend, is none other than Jesus Christ.

~ Paul and Danica Bartelme have been married for 22 years and have three children age 12 years and under. Jacob (12), Lily (11), and Luke (9). They’ve been residents of Escondido for 11 years and love Harley motorcycles and good music. They pastor Escondi­do’s very own Sanctuary Church. ~ Any questions or comments regard­ing the story? Got an idea for a story we should write? Email us at Or check us out on the web at

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