Monday, January 7, 2013

What If I Don't Feel Like It?

A Christian alive in the year 1513 met a Christian alive in 2013:

1513 Christian:  Man only proposes, but it is God Who disposes.
2013 Christian:  The Bible only infers, but We do what we prefer.

Isn't that the agenda and temptation of today's believer?  We know what God's word says, but we just don't feel like it.  It's not that the 1513 Christian always did God's will.  Far from that-- Christians of every age have failed God and have "preferred" their own way.  The difference is many of today's Christians openly rebel and refuse to blush.  Completely unashamed and even offended by any call to repentance, so many in our churches are most happy when expressing what's on their heart and most bored when challenged to discern God's heart as expressed in the text of scripture.

So how do we get past ourselves and do what we know is right to do?

Webster defines discipline as, "training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character... orderly prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior."  So if we're disciplined, it means we've been worked on by some outside force and have been through enough drills such that, with the proper attention to correct thinking, we overcome our emotions and we do what is right.  So the answer is discipline, right?

I don't think so... at least not entirely.

Discipline is cold.  And unlike other cold things such as ice cream and cash, discipline rarely makes a person smile.  Many of us have worked hard at becoming 'more disciplined' only to find our disciplined selves defeated yet again by the boiling, red-hot passions that rage within us.  I'm not saying that discipline isn't part of the answer to doing what is right.  I'm just saying that it's not the whole answer.

Re-programming isn't enough.  What we need is a new passion.  We need a new love.  We need to embrace a goal and craving even bigger than self-satisfaction.  Being disciplined is good, but it's lifeless compared to being driven.  I met the LORD on my knees back in 1986 and over the last 26 years, I've become convinced of this one thing: knowing what's right is not the problem... a love for doing what is right-- THAT'S what's missing.  

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  
-Hebrews 12:2

Remember Gethsemane?  Jesus was not a cross-lover.  It was on His "to do list", but it didn't have little hearts dancing around it.  He didn't endure the most shameful kind of death ever invented because He was disciplined.  Scripture does not deny the shame of the cross and in fact, a few bible verses actually highlight and emphasize the shame of crucifixion.  But Jesus got past the shame by embracing another emotion: joy.  He was driven by the end product of the painful circumstance and therefore counted the displeasure a small thing in comparison.  Can fulfilling my own desires take me further than fulfilling God's will?

Forgive my enemies?  I'd prefer not to.  Pray for someone who hurts me?  I'd prefer not to.  Look after the needs of people who can't help me in my worst moments but swore they would?  I'd prefer not to.  Well, look at the Cross and consider the One on it: He did all these things and more, although He "preferred not to".  And the more cross-centered our lives are, the more we stop making our emotions/goals into gods, the more we desire Christ-likeness more than what we like... we'll be doing all kinds of things we don't want to do.  But I'm betting my life that there's more joy in that than anything else.

May God give me a pure preference for His pleasure and not my own.  Amen.


  1. As a person who currently struggles with procrastinating (the belief that I will do a required task tomorrow [ a day when I FEEL COMPLETELY RIGHT AND READY for said task which, considering the afflictions of a daily degenerating body due to the fall, is a day that exists only in theory]) and is an ex-slave of the belief in that salvation can be found in a rigorously disciplined life, consider me rebuked.

  2. God bless you "NingNing". As I see it, the problem we have is that we make our comfort the priority and not our conformity to Christ. If conformity to Christ was the real goal, we may still offer a protest against pain and prefer ease and comfort... but we would be far more welcoming to the things we don't like b/c we would embrace them as opportunities to die to self. Isn't that what we signed up for in the first place???

  3. I believe I heard piper say that he began really memorizing scripture and moving forward in his ministry when he developed a genuine passion for God's word.. I need help there. I think ultimately if we love God,(with the love God enables us to love him with...deut. 30:6) that love will grow becuase it doesn't originate from you, but is but is given by the spirit .. I'm thankful to see that growth happening in my life and other believers around me, thanks for writing this blog Eric!!!!!!

  4. My reaction to this blog is the evidence that apart from Christ I'm ruined. I desire everything that destroys me. I don't even want my own joy and well being. I'd rather do what only depresses me and leaves me with anxiety. My flesh says, forget a fulfilling life, squander it all on vanity. I don't prefer making disciples or giving my time away to others. I'd rather save my life my own way and subsequently lose it. What a wretched condition. Christ restore my soul, better yet, awaken this deadness!

    And then when all feels lost, I feel new energies in me...not from me, but given to me. Alas for the joy set before me I shall obey the Lord. You guys are right! Thanks for the admonition!

    The wounds of a friend are better than the kisses of an enemy.-Proverbs 27:6