I’ve been perusing the wordpress world through the Christian tags, and I’ve found myself somewhat perplexed and ached by what I find. I am often inflicted by how much hurt there is in the Body of Christ that doesn’t seem to be healing… I read story after story of how this person is struggling with depression, that person with anger, another person with sin, another with feeling unloved, another with loneliness, and still another with blatant immorality. I am somewhat confused. Where is the victory?
Let me say from the beginning: we are not to live in a happy pretend fun-land false reality where we just say we’re not sinners, but we really are struggling. I don’t in any way want to make it sound like we should just not confess our faults. Nor do I want to sound like I have no struggles of my own. We all have our struggles and our temptations that need to be overcome. The issue that I’m battling here is that it seems as though much of what I experience is quite different than what I read in other people’s blogs…
When I was brand new in Christ, I had a really difficult time not cursing. I had an even harder time not losing my temper. I had an even harder time not looking at pornography. I was trapped in sin, brokenness, lewdness, and corruption. There was no escape. I nearly hated my own father. I was utterly against my own brothers and sisters in Christ. I was selfish. I was vain. Much of my life was given over to selfish ambition, and trying to pick up girls.
When I was a child I thought like a child. I eventually grew up. It was about a year into my Christian walk that I listened to this message and was deeply convicted. You see, before I was a Christian I claimed atheism. My biggest reason for not believing was that I had never seen anyone who actually lived the way they claimed to believe. They claim there is a god who is the source of morality, and yet I don’t even practice the drugs they take. They claim that there is a god who loves them, and yet they get angry and full of hatred just as easily as I do. I can multiply these a hundredfold.
It was that message that reminded me of my rebellion. How is it that I could claim disbelief because of everyone else’s shallowness, only to then live shallowly and not fully embrace the Christian message? I grew. A lot. Actually, I found freedom over the anger, over the lust, over the bitterness, over the sadness, over the hostility, over the porn addiction, over the mouth like an open grave. I found victory is possible on this side of eternity.
So, when I read these blogs and people continue to talk about their struggles, I can’t help but wonder if they are either young in the faith or if they are somehow not finding the same freedom that I found. Does that mean I never get angry? No, I do get angry, and sometimes my temper gets the best of me. Yet, I have found that it is under entirely different circumstances, and I have found that my temper is completely under my control for most instances. My struggle in regards to temper, loneliness, or lust is utterly different than before. The moments that I feel lonely is not brought on because of my isolation, but because of my abandonment. And, let me say this, I have complete comfort in being alone with Christ, but as a human we all desire interaction with other human beings.
My struggles are no longer about carnality and disobedience and sin. They are no longer about oppression and spinning my wheels. My struggles today are about wrestling the principalities and powers, about living a life fully devoted unto Christ, about helping others overcome, about seeing by the eye of the Spirit and living according to that. My struggles are less about this “flesh” that I have, and more about “how do I be a servant?”
So, for those of you who might read this and think, “Yeah, I am still struggling and I don’t know why”, I have some advice. You see, for those of you who are new to the faith – it has only been a few years that you’ve been walking this – it takes time to grow. You have to know that it is possible to be free from sin, and to not be content with anything less than the glory of God. This brings me to my second thought: For those of you who have been walking this for decades, and you aren’t new to the faith, yet you still find yourself shallow, struggling, wondering where the power is, then you need to repent. Somewhere you have stunted your growth. You have taken your eyes off of the things that are above, and you have focused upon the things of the world. You have focused upon your “sin nature” – the very nature that both Jesus and Paul say has been done away with in the believer. You have focused upon your life struggles, and the kids, and the laundry, and the bills, and getting a bigger home, or better job, or whatever. You have stopped focusing upon the eternal and began to focus upon the temporary.
Sadly, this is promoted in Christendom. It is easier to control weak and immature saints than it is to control the mature. So, much of our Christianity is based upon learning knowledge, but keeping the saints from growing up unto maturity. The focus is placed entirely upon us, and even when we talk about God, or sing our worship songs, it is about God’s relationship with us. You cannot grow in that. Focus upon what is above, the things eternal, what is good, what is perfect, what is pleasing to the Spirit – focus upon Christ. This is what causes us to live for the glory of God: beholding His glory. You get saints who are all beholding His glory, and thus reflecting His glory, and suddenly you have an entire body that helps one another grow up unto maturity.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for listening to my little rant, and I hope that it helps. You aren’t alone, even though it might feel like it.