Lately, I’ve noticed that many who claim to be Christians have a lack of desire to grow, learn or mature in their faith. It’s obvious in those that spew out hate, bigotry and ignorance in the name of Christianity; but, I’ve become increasingly convicted that it has been true in my own life as well. I believe, if we were to be honest, that it’s true in most of us.
We seem to find time for surfing Facebook, adding to our boards on Pinterest or watching endless Netflix shows that do anything but strengthen our faith. And yet, we so easily explain away why we don’t have time for studying God’s word, for prayer, for personal worship, for discipleship or for listening to inspiring sermons during the week. I’m sure someone is already thinking, “Well that’s awfully legalistic. Hasn’t she heard of grace?” I’ll be honest and say that, in the past, I’ve been guilty of side-stepping or downplaying this issue because I didn’t relish the idea of someone seeing me in that way. (Or maybe, I didn’t want to be accountable.) However, God has begun to show me how important this idea of being transformed really is. It’s become a point of passionate prayer that myself, my family and my church, both locally and globally, would set aside everything in the pursuit of becoming the people God intends us to be. In a very real sense, the pursuit of finding ourselves. Our true selves.
I mean, let’s get real.
Have you seen the world we’re living in? Have you witnessed the division and the hatred? Have you heard of the suffering and injustice all around us? Have you noticed that the Church, which God intends to be salt and light in the world, seems to be ineffective?
The world is in desperate need of God’s presence through His people. Unfortunately, we’ve been tricked by the enemy into thinking that God changes us through the Holy Spirit by no real work of our own. As if being “led by the Spirit” is a passive action that takes no effort. How did we forget about the metaphors of a soldier preparing for war or an athlete training for a competition. To be effective, we must be purposeful and passionate about becoming more and more true to who God has created us to be…a person that bears the image of God in this world.
In my younger years,I was often motivated by duty. “I’m a Christian so I should do this or that.” Duty has it’s place and I don’t believe it’s a bad thing, but it often lacks the ability to motivate us. I’ve become much more aware lately of the motivation found in both love and calling. Realizing the incredible love God has for me and the incredible calling He has placed on me has awakened a hunger to learn. When our hearts get a glimpse of the truths and mysteries of God’s wisdom,they’re stirred for more.I’ve also observed that Christians get angry and won’t listen to people with differing opinions. Why are we so frightened? God can defend Himself and His truth can withstand disagreements. Also,we should be able to lovingly defend our beliefs in the face of someone that disagrees. My new conviction is that I want to be challenged. I want to see another view of things. I want to have a reason to dig in and to really know why I believe what I believe. The more I dig, the deeper I want to go. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I have to learn. The more I hear God, the more I want to hear Him.
With that said, here’s my challenge. Find time today to watch this video by N.T. Wright.
I’ve watched it a couple of times today and it’s stirred something in me. My faith and feeling of purpose seems to have grown exponentially.It’ll take some time and it may challenge your thinking, but I believe it’s invaluable. I believe that you will come away with a better understanding of our need to be changed and to actively cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He convicts, empowers and teaches us. Listen to it while you drive to work, while you’re on the bus, while you exercise, while you make dinner or instead of watching some silly cat video on Facebook. Then let me know what you think. It gave me a new view of my purpose as God’s daughter and, somehow, made me want to grow instead of making me feel like a needed to grow. There’s freedom and joy in that, and there’s an excitement in realizing that the struggle of changing is the only way to really find out who I am. As N.T. Wright says, if we all set out on the path of discovering who we really are in Christ, imagine what an impact we would have on this world that so desperately needs to see and feel God’s love. That’s something worth giving our lives to.