This is a Part II. Take a look here for Part I so you will have a context for today’s conversation.
Sadly, we see ourselves as being on our own, so to speak, to live the Christian life. We join the Family of God. We realize we can’t do that alone. Then, we think the rest is up to us. We might not say it, we may not even think we believe it, but we live that way.
As if we actually have the ability to design our own plan for sanctification? Or be objective enough to realize where we need to change? Much less, have the desire to actually do it consistently. But is this really true? Are we on our own to live the Christian life? That is, once we have become part of the family of God!
- Do we have to muster up the desire to love God?
- To have our devotions every day?
- To love to pray and read His Word?
- To desire to obey Him rather than continue in disobedience?
The encouragement for me has been that I don’t have to initiate all that. Yes, of course I need to obey. There is also a place for certain disciplines. I don’t deny that. But there are days, I don’t even have the “want to”. Those are the days when God does more than only 50% in the relationship…of course, He always does more than 50%. He carries the whole load in the relationship of us and Him.
We do have responsibilities for certain, but many of us live as if the relationship is up to us, ALL up to us. It isn’t. He initiated it, He maintains it, He energizes it. This is not a pull-yourself-up-by the bootstraps get-yourself-together kind of relationship!
He is the Father as in the Prodigal Son kind of Father. We’re all Prodigals. Those of us who think we are Older Sons are missing out on the joy of the Celebration! We are missing out on the Joy and Delight of being Sons and Daughters of the Father! We are sitting in the corner having our pity party because of our miserable self-righteousness! It will kill our joy. Especially the joy of being part of the family of God!
When you read the gospels, who did Jesus condemn? Was it the overtly sinful people who came to Him for forgiveness, or the self-righteous who were proud of their religious accomplishments and external goodness? Yes, I slanted the rhetorical question so you would figure out the answer.
In one place, Jesus said, “The sick can’t get better if they don’t get treated by the doctor.” What a great description of a self-righteous person! Someone who walks around ill, but won’t go see the doctor who can heal them.
Living the Christian life isn’t up to me in one sense. God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, is at work in me on the bad days, giving me the desire to obey Him and the ability as well. He is at work all the time. Even when I look around and everything looks like a mess…like my house right now. God is working purposefully. He is changing me and conforming me to the image of Christ. There is His order behind what often looks like chaos to me.
As I stand in the middle of my messy house, I think of messy areas in my life as well. I am thankful that God is working on them. I’m just not wise enough to do the work that is needed. Or know where to begin! Everywhere I look, it’s a mess! That’s why I need God to live the christian life.
Sometimes, I don’t even know what needs to be done. He does! He has an eternal perspective on my life. He has a different purpose and goal for me than I often have for me…and HE WILL DO IT. The process is not always a fun one. It can be painful at times. But in the end, the results will be glorious!