Time and time again I find myself in a hole of ruin and despair when I think I am living a Christian life. Even in the midst of weeks of genuine prayer and worship to God, there are some days I somehow find myself weathered and beaten beyond belief. Guilt consumes me and shame won't let me delight in Jesus in those times when I stray away and sin.
However, through reading familiar passages of God's Word and other books penned by individuals who thirst for Christ, I am reminded over and over again that my single, all-embracing problem is that I am not counting everything as loss for the sake of knowing Jesus Christ more and more (Philippians 3:8). So many times I spend time in morning devotion to God praising Him and reading His Word but actually I'm indirectly trying “secure” success or good fortune for my day. There's no doubt that this is probably one of the most selfish acts that I could commit. Moreover, it's no surprise that I'm inevitably dragged away by my own selfish and evil desires to gratify myself (James 1:14). I'm no more less prone to sin than the most reckless of sinners. The reality is I'm no different.
I feel like those of us who have been raised in a Christian home, who have attended church for years, or who have in some form been acquainted with the Truth that is in Jesus Christ often feel confused and resentful when we fail to live according to the Holy Spirit. We feel like we ourselves are being ignored by God even though we “punch-in” at church and try our hardest to abide by moral standards. The problem lies deep within the human heart.
The solution, ironically, comes from God through His Son, Jesus Christ. This is the point where I usually shut down and exclaim, “This isn't anything new!”. How could I right my wrongs by going to the One I failed? The answer is one that we've all probably heard since the beginning, but have never seen from the correct point of view. Jesus set all people free through His death on the cross. He set us free from the bondage and tyranny of the flesh, the obvious activities of the sinful nature: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like (Galatians 5:19-21). But, I failed to realize that Jesus also set mankind free from the obscure acts of the sinful nature. I was certain that staying committed to God's Word and starting my days with prayer were the answers to receiving a life of joy, peace, and love. That straying away from sinful acts was the key to “winning” the game of life. It was only when I recognized that I was only doing all of this to reap a reward for myself that it all made sense. My self centered, moralistic lifestyle traces back to one of the most obvious works of the flesh, selfish ambition. So where does that leave us? We have to radically change our view of what life is all about to escape this viscous cycle of selfish devotion to God resulting in sinful demise. The only way to do this is to glorify Jesus Christ in everything we do. We have to recognize that our aspirations for this temporary life almost always drag us away from a life in step with our Savior if we do not ultimately aspire to glorify Him. We can no longer pray to God to protect and guide us throughout our day if we say “Amen” and then immediately force our own desires above His. To many of us, it sounds odd and foreign to center everything around our Redeemer. That's because our priorities are tragically distorted. We think that if we incorporate faith into our secular life, that everything will fall into place. In actuality we should let God incorporate our lives into His plan. If we alter our way of thinking, then, all our hearts will desire is Jesus Christ and his pure love. All joy in this life will stem from a deeper joy of delighting in a perfect Liberator.
I'm writing this to remind myself that I do at times fail to delight in Jesus and to do everything to glorify Him. It defeats me and leaves me questioning everything I've known. But, when I realize that I am broken and in need of nothing but His love, I am restored and rejoice that His power is made perfect in my weakness. I'm also writing this to help those who have entered into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and at one time made Him Lord of their life, but fell away due to a tragedy or personal discouragement in your faith. Leave the past in the past and run with all your strength back to Jesus Christ. He will restore you to who you were created to be.