Well, I wish I could

As we emerge from the dark year of COVID, I am seeing a terrible side effect – apathy about worship, fellowship, and discipleship leading to the slow spiritual death of many. As a shepherd of the flock of God, I feel responsible and I take it personally as I should! God tells me that I am “to watch over your souls, and (I am) accountable” to Him for the health of Christians in my care. (Hebrews 13:17, NLT)  

Christianity is not a stroll in the park on a sunny afternoon. It’s a race. Sad fact –  millions never finish. They drop out, get distracted, let doubts overwhelm them, or just decide that other things are more important than pursuing God.

How do we finish this race well? I read the story of a middle- aged man who decided that he would run a marathon after seeing his daughter finish one. He was out of shape, had never run at all, much less done anything as rigorous as running a 26.2 mile race. But, inspired by his daughter’s achievement, he wanted to match it. He began with a mile run. He felt like his chest was going to explode. Six months later, he finished a marathon! How did he do it? Daily training– focus, conditioning, eating healthy foods, and unwavering commitment to his goal.

The Christian life is a sustained series of daily choices. It is not a sentimental moment on Christmas and Easter. It’s not a ‘prayer to accept Jesus into my heart’ at Sunday School that is largely forgotten in adulthood. It isn’t even just a Sunday morning habit of church-going. Disciples of Christ are people who hear a different song, who respond to a higher call, who desire to know Jesus and to make Him known. Becoming a mature and productive Christian demands much of us and the idea that it is an easy road is a lie.

Many wish that they could love well, that they could know the joy of serving faithfully, that they could experience the inner peace of a relationship with God. Wishes won’t make it so. Let me pause here to restate a basic fact. The myth of the ‘easy Christian life’ is persistent in our culture. Somehow we think that we ought to have a spiritual awakening, an earth-shaking emotional moment that instantly relieves us of selfishness, laziness, apathy, …  but, the truth is that being Jesus’ follower is not for the faith-hearted. God has given us daily disciplines to build endurance and maturity in us. They enable us to live mature and complete lives, full of the Spirit, that defeat the Evil One, that create loving spaces in a hate filled world, and that cause others to say, “God be praised!”

A caution here – do not worship the disciplines more than the Lord to which they are to lead. Being incurably ‘religious’ we can become proud of our performance, which destroys the promise they have. That said we need to commit to  daily prayer, regular service, continual Scripture intake because these things open up channels through which the Holy Spirit flows into our lives. Where He lives, fruit follows.  

Let me underscore this- Salvation comes by grace alone. We cannot earn it!  But, there is training required for a solid, God-honoring Christian life. Said practically, if a person will not get to worship faithfully, contribute a portion of his income to God, practice forgiveness, participate in some kind of selfless service and love, meditate and pray each day;  he will be as incapable of doing great things for God as I am to run a marathon today!

Meditate on this passage – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  I hear those words quoted by so many, but not so much these that follow them in the next line –  “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13, NIV)

God has a plan and purpose for your life is that ‘immeasurably more’ than you can see with your natural insight. Great Christians need great vision. If you want to move out of apathy, start by praying to see the world, yourself, as God sees you.  Thank Him for the possibilities He creates and then pray for the wisdom and courage to start small, to practice until you’re matured, completed, and able to do what that thing that you could only dream about before your training began.

At the end of that race, there is a reward that is eternal, that does not tarnish, that no one can eclipse, or take away. Paul says “there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8, NIV)

Let’s take the challenge of the Word to “leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God.” (Hebrews 6:1, NIV) In short, “Let’s grow up and get on with the work of being a disciple!”

Here’s the wisdom of the Word about training. I pray it becomes your daily challenge.  “Train yourself to be godly. “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it.” (1 Timothy 4:7-9, NLT)  Jesus says “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27, NIV)  His words, not mine!

_________________
King Of My Heart

(a simple and inspired presentation)

Let the King of my heart
Be the mountain where I run
The fountain I drink from
Oh He is my song

Let the King of my heart
Be the shadow where I hide
The ransom for my life
Oh He is my song

You are good good oh
You are good good oh

Let the King of my heart
Be the wind inside my sails
The anchor in the waves
Oh He is my song

Let the King of my heart
Be the fire inside my veins
The echo of my days
Oh He is my song

You’re never gonna let
Never gonna let me down
You’re never gonna let
Never gonna let me down

When the night is holding on to me
God is holding on

John Mark McMillan | Sarah McMillan

© Meaux Jeaux Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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