Chariots Of Fire
On the way to work today, I passed an early-morning jogger in our neighborhood. As I drove by, my first thought was, “Wow, I wish I was that disciplined!” My second thought was, “Never mind, I’m good where I am.” My thought process kind of made me chuckle as I realized that, the older I get in life, the more comfortable I’m getting with where I am physically. When I was younger, I regularly tried to make myself exercise more. So I took up running, and then cycling, and then at one point I even tried weight lifting. However, the result was always the same: two or three weeks into it, I would give up because exercising was too much work.
Unfortunately, this is a problem that can show up in my spiritual life as well. There are times when I want to be more like God, when I want to live fully for Him, but I just don't have the desire to put in the effort. It's almost like I wish I could blink my eyes and be perfectly holy, without having to go through the growth process.
But that's not how it works, because God is a God of process. He wants us to go through the act of shedding our old self and putting on the new because He uses that process to teach us about His nature and character. It's this very thing that Jesus addresses in John 6:26-27, when He says, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with Me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given Me the seal of His approval.”
This passage comes right after Jesus fed the 5,000, and then crossed the lake. On the other side, Jesus ran into some folks who were asking for more miracles, and He responded with what we just read in John 6. He knew that these people weren’t interested in knowing Jesus Himself, they just wanted their food. In other words, they wanted Christianity without Christ.
It's a really easy mindset to fall into. We want the blessing from God, without having the suffering as well. We want forgiveness, but we don't want to repent. We want to go to heaven, but we don't want to bear the cross. The challenge of course is that Christianity is a package deal. We don't get to pick and choose the things that we like, and then reject the “hard” stuff.
So while we might be inclined to try and approach our walk with God with an attitude that says, “I want forgiveness, but I still want to sin”, we can't. It's like saying we want to lose weight and then eating chocolate cake every night. It doesn't work - trust me, I've tried. So in the same way that we have to choose to eat healthy to be healthy, we have to choose to live for God, to be godly. And yes, it will require sacrifice, and it will require giving up our selfish, sinful nature - but it will be worth it in the end.
So today, let's ask God to help us choose Him above all else - no matter what effort or sacrifice it requires from us.