"Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers." - VoltairE

How much do we want God?

Posted by Anne Witton on Friday, August 26, 2022 Under: Reflections


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
Hebrews 12: 1 – 2a

I want to have a richly satisfying, intimate relationship with God but at times I haven’t been prepared to put any effort in. I know that I’m saved by grace and that I’m sustained by grace alone and sometimes I’ve wrongly assumed that this means that my choices and behaviour don’t matter because it’s down to God to do everything. A couple of analogies have helped me see the error of this thinking.

  1. Imagine I want to run a marathon, but I don’t want to fork out for the trainers or drag myself off the sofa for a run, or stop eating junk food, or be disciplined about sleep. Would anyone take me seriously as a ‘marathon runner’?
  2. Or say I want to be able to play the piano but I’m not going to invest in one, or have lessons, or practice or learn to read music. Do I really want to be able to play the piano at all?
The thing is, if we really want something, we are prepared to put the effort in and make sacrifices to get it. Where we invest our time, money and effort is a very good indication of what we actually value. So if we’re not interested in any spiritual discipline or in taking our sin seriously, we probably need to question how much we actually care about following and enjoying God. Saying that we wish God would make his presence felt to us while we’re deliberately disobeying him is like asking God to speak to us while simultaneously putting our fingers in our ears and shouting at the top of our voices.

God’s part and our part

To be absolutely clear, we don’t earn our salvation and we can’t do anything to make God love us more, or to lose his love for us. He has taken the initiative to bring us into relationship with him and there’s nothing we can do to earn that or to make ourselves more acceptable to him. But we can cut ourselves off from the ongoing experience of his love and the joy of life in him by our wrong choices. We can refuse to let him in and turn our backs on everything that he wants to offer us. He longs to be with us and give us all that we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1: 3), but we have to cooperate. We have to be willing to receive it. Here are a few biblical encouragements:

  1. The church in Laodicea were lukewarm, missing out on all the riches of Christ. In John’s vision of Jesus, these are the words that Christ speaks to them:
    Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
    Revelation 3: 20

    God won’t break the door down if we refuse to invite him in, but he longs for us to open it so that we can enjoy intimacy and sweet fellowship with him.

  2. If we want God, he doesn’t hide from us:
    “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
    Matthew 7: 7

  3. God’s given us his armour but we have to put it on:
    Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
    Ephesians 6: 13 – 17

    It's no good leaving the armour in a cupboard and then leaving the battlefield disillusioned because we’ve been struck by an arrow.
What are we going to choose?

God will always honour obedience. He will meet us in our most fragile state and give us the strength we need for the journey. And he really wants us to experience the depth of his love and enjoy the richness of life in him. How much do we want that? Enough to give up stuff that we know is wrong? Enough to read the Bible even when we’re tired? Enough to go to church when we don’t feel like it? Enough to pray even when we’re in pain? My experience over the last year has confirmed to me that it is totally worth pursuing God even when we feel like we can’t. In the words of the Anglican liturgy, he has met us in his Son and brought us home. He will always bring us home if we’re willing to go with him.

For some of us, pursuing God will mean other lifestyle changes like deciding to stop drinking, changing jobs, going to a different church, choosing to forgive somebody, going away by ourselves with God to recommit to him, moving cities or stopping hanging out with certain friends. Jesus said, "If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell." (Matthew 5: 29 - 30). Are we going to do whatever it takes to follow God wholeheartedly?

I know from really tough personal experience that sometimes the Christian life is really hard and God seems far away. But the encouragement in Scripture is always to press on (Heb 10: 36; 1 Tim 4: 16). Keep going. If we don’t feel instantly better, we need to persevere and keep seeking Jesus. Sometimes it takes time but it will always be worth it. Just like sometimes a training run is really hard and you don’t feel like you’ve made any progress, or a piano session might feel like you’ve forgotten what you learned and aren’t getting anywhere. The frustration is temporary. Don’t give up. If we keep going, the trajectory will be moving us towards Jesus and deeper into his heart and love for us

Our time here is really short. Are we going to squander it by messing around with things we know won’t really satisfy? Are we going to be half-hearted Christians feeling unfulfilled and vaguely guilty that we’re just going through the motions? Are we tempted to try and get away from God completely, even though we know that doesn’t really work? Or are we going to take a leap of faith knowing that Jesus will catch us and take us on the adventure of our lives? Are we prepared to get rid of the things that hold us back (Hebrews 12: 1), put on our armour (Ephesians 6: 13 - 17) and march onwards along the path of life in the power of the Holy Spirit with Jesus as our lover and friend? How much do we want God?

Let’s be like Moses, one of that great cloud of witnesses, who “chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.”
Hebrews 11: 25

In : Reflections 


Tags: god jesus perseverance discipline 

Tags

"loving god' commandment relationship 40th activity acts addiction adoption adultery advent aesop agapé android animation anxiety apologetics app apps argument aroma atheism audio ben folds bible bible characters bible narrative bible study bible trading cards big picture birthday blog body of christ book book review books busyness cat celebration celibacy celtic change charity chart child children christ christendom christmas chronicles church church history climate change coastguard colouring comedy commentary communications communion community compassion conference consumerism contemplation context conversation coronavirus covenant covid-19 creation creation care creativity cross crucifixtion cryptic culture cwtch daily prayer data day of the lord debate devotional diagram dictionary digital disagreement disciples discipleship discipline discussion documentary easter ecclesiastes education effort elder brother emotion encouragement enemies environment environmentalism ethics evangelism event evidence ezekiel fable facebook fact check fair trade faith faitheism fake news father fear feast feeling fellowship feminism fiction film fireseeds flesh flourishing food foodbank forgiveness free freedom freshers fun fundraiser funny galatians game gay gay wedding genealogies generosity gifts giving god god's presence good good news gospel gospreflection grace gratitude great commission green growth guitar hagar healing health heart heaven hebrews history hoarding holy biscuit holy spirit home homosexuality hope hopelessness hospitality house hub humanism humour hymn identity in individualism infographic infographics inheritance insurance internet interview interviews ios jesus joel joke jonah joseph joy justice kindness kingdom kingdom of god law leaflet lectio divina legacy lennox lesbian levite lgbtq liberty library literal literature liturgy living out lockdown lord’s love lust magazine map mark mark's materialism matthew maturity meal meditation meditations memory mental health ministry mission missionaries moody moral morality move murray music nation new creation new year newcomers news non-fiction north east obsession old testament online outreach pain palm sunday parable passover peace pentecost persecution perseverance perspective philosophy photo photography piano picture this thought podcast poem poetry political correctness pool night possessions post-christendom poverty power praise prayer prayer requests prayer walk preaching presentation presents priest princess anne priorities prodigal son productivity project prophecy protection provision psalm publicity puzzle questions quiz quotes reading rebellion reconciliation redemption reference reflection relationship relationships relativism religion remembrance repentance rescue resource resources rest restoration resurrection retreat review reviews riches right and wrong royalty rules rush sabbath sacrifice same-sex attraction sarah scholarship science screens scripture scripture engagement secularism seed self esteem sermon sermon on the mount sex sexuality shalom sharing faith shopping showcase significance silence simplicity sin slavery smell social social action social media society software solitude song songs sonship soularium sources speaking spiritual gifts spirituality sproul spurgeon stations of the cross stats stewardship stone story stott student student life students study suffering supper support support discovery talk tech technology temple tft thank you thanksgiving theology time toby tools top trumps trading cards training transformation translation treasure treasure hunt trivia true freedom trust truth unity update utilities value video vine visual walk war wealth website websites wesley witnessing women words world worldview worry worship worth writing wrong wycliffe youtube ywam

Living Out is registered UK Charity no. 1165572 | The Baptist Union is Charity no. 249635