Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Two's a Crowd

Sometimes I feel like two people live inside of me. There’s the one that desires entirely to submit and yield to the purposes of God. She wants to be refined and stretched and challenged and used. She wants to press in and kick butt & take names for Jesus.

I like this girl.

But then there’s this other girl living in me. She’s a lazy, selfish pleasure-seeker who doesn’t want to put forth the effort to pursue wholeness. She’s content to settle into her hang-ups, and she’s indifferent to the opportunities beyond those presented to her.

I despise this girl.

I suppose all this is biblical… the whole spirit vs. flesh thing. And I suppose that on some level we all struggle with this. We all suffer from this inner battle to ascribe righteousness rather than recklessness to our lives. Of course we want to do what is good and right and life giving. Of course! But the broader, more destructive path entices us. It tells us that things will be easier if we just give in. Why press in when we can enjoy some measure of success without exerting much effort? Why contend when we can coast? Maybe coasting doesn’t sound blatantly reckless or destructive, but consider all that’s being neglected or left undone when we sit back and engage only what come to us.

As believers we’ve been called to take ground. We’ve been commissioned to go and make and preach, to advance the Kingdom of God. There is nothing passive about that kind of calling. But my tendency is to let opportunities come to me. I engage that which presents itself to me and then spend the minimum amount of effort required to enjoy success. And I call this faithfulness.

It’s not.

It’s laziness.

I do this in my own life with struggles and brokenness. I whine and complain and ask God to fix me, heal me, free me. And I’m frustrated when it doesn’t happen. But the truth is, I want Him to do all the work. I want my prayer and desire to be all that’s required of me. It doesn’t work that way. If I want healing and freedom and wholeness I will have to contend for it. I will have to make sacrifices, pursue safeguards, and wage war when necessary.

I did this in college (don’t tell my professors). I cannot tell you how many times I wrote papers and mustered only the minimum effort required to land an A. I knew that I could pull it off, but what if I had spent my four years pushing myself, drawing out all the best that was in me? Maybe my grades would have been the same, but I wouldn’t have been.

And most disturbingly, I do this here in China. Everyday I am honored to be a light and voice, to be a tangible expression of God’s love for the people here. I am humbled by the opportunities that the Lord has given me to teach His Word and share His heart. I pray about these things. Sometimes. Usually my prayers begin when the person approaches me, or when I step into the classroom. But what if I spent my mornings on my knees contending for the hearts of those around me? What if I fought for them? What if I engaged heaven and released the will of God in their lives? What if I pursued relationship beyond my office hours? I’ve settled for convenience when I should be counting the cost for the cause of Christ (wow… impressive alliteration there, Jaime).

Complacency and lethargy are parasites of the flesh that eat away at faith life. They’re subtle and seemingly harmless, until the day we discover that our once passionate zeal for the Kingdom has become nothing more than a malnourished desire to be a good person and get into heaven.

The battle against the flesh is more than just resisting temptation and avoiding sin. The flesh is tricky. It seeks to undermine the spirit with “good enoughs” and “that’ll dos.” It tells us that a little effort is enough effort and if healing and progress and freedom don’t come at that expense, then they’ll probably never come. And so we settle. We settle for what comes our way. We settle for what will get us by. I don’t want to settle anymore. I want my life with Jesus to be filled with opportunities He brings and opportunities I seek Him for. I want to be proactive and vigilant in seeing the Kingdom come, His will done.

The passive, complacent, apathetic, lethargic girl living in me is going to need to find new digs. She’s not welcome anymore.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

“Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.”

“The Kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force.”

“How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the Lord God of your father has given you?” 

1 comment:

  1. "I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day." - E. B. White

    I came across this quote the other day. I think it's pretty brilliant in describing our common struggle. :)