“Disappointment” or “Quit being lame”

You think YOU’RE disappointed with lack of blogging-depth lately. Try being on MY end of it. Think what was going through my mind when I checked out what my site looks like and discovered you barely even need to scroll to read my five most-recent posts. That’s a real indicator of how blah-zeh they’ve been lately.

But the truth is, I have been thinking through a lot of stuff lately–most of it circling around two things. Well…maybe three or four actually, but I’ll touch on two.

Galatians 3. What a chapter. It was brought to my attention two Sundays ago at church and hit so close to home, the plates nearly rattled out of the cabinets. It’s one of those things that I had been wrestling with for several weeks prior and felt SO relieved to receive some confirmation that I was, in fact, hearing from God and not insane.

Prior to realizing Galatians 3 even existed (I’d read it, but not for a long time and had forgotten some of the truths it holds), I had been feeling that the last thing I needed to do in my life was strive more. I was sick of working and toiling; I had become exhausted with the idea of needing to fix my life and just push through stuff with sheer determination.

But I didn’t know what to do with the idea. I had caught hints of it in Colossians–a verse here or there that gave me hope I wasn’t listening to a lie. And I certainly felt personally convicted on the idea. But I wasn’t convinced that I wasn’t simply being stubborn, or lazy or something else. I considered the loads of people in the history of the world who were SURE about something (David Koresh, anyone…?) who were simply WACKS. Maybe I was becoming one of them…

And then there came Galatians 3: God’s truth saved my sanity! I wasn’t off base after all! Actually, I was ahead of the game, because the Holy Spirit brought me PERSONALLY to that conclusion. I hadn’t read it out of a book, or even God’s Word for that matter. But it was confirmed by the Word. Very exciting.

So, what does it say?

5Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you?

And it goes on to say:

10And that means that anyone who tries to live by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed to failure. Scripture backs this up: “Utterly cursed is every person who fails to carry out every detail written in the Book of the law.”

11The obvious impossibility of carrying out such a moral program should make it plain that no one can sustain a relationship with God that way. The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you. Habakkuk had it right: “The person who believes God, is set right by God–and that’s the real life.” 12Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith, but only perpetuates itself in more and more rule-keeping, a fact observed in Scripture: “The one who does these things [rule-keeping] continues to live by them.”

I love 11b: “Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you.” And not because it makes me feel good or relieves me of any burdens…because walking by faith takes a whole lot more effort than rule-following and striving. It takes fighting against the flesh, and everything we default to do as a fallen peopl, every step of the way.

I like it because it resonates with my heart. And that’s the part of me that has been recreated. I believe this resonates with most people’s hearts…but many don’t believe it. I personally didn’t believe for years that the Christian walk was as simple (or…not so simple…) as getting to know God and letting him do the work. It just doesn’t make sense. But it’s a principle of the upside-down kingdom that Christ established where the last are first and the week are strong and the poor are rich.

Add to that “those who strive more accomplish less.” This lines up with Wilkinson’s teaching in Secrets of the Vine, where he says the final stage of growth is abiding. We’ve been lifted out the dirt and dusted off (salvation). we’ve been sculpted and pruned (discipline, correction, sanctification process…). Now comes the hard part: abiding. Learning that intimacy with the Father is above all–that knowing Him trumps EVERYTHING.

My flesh doesn’t like it. It screams to DO something, to accomplish something, to have something to show for my walk with God, like finishing a book or reading my six chapters a day or volunteering my time or praying in tongues. THOSE are the indicators of where my faith is and THOSE are the things that will make me more holy. Because the Christian walk is about discipline, dang it. It’s about beating our flesh into submission.

Wrong. The Christian walk is about one discipline: loving God in response to his love for us.

That is what will change your life and make you holy.

And I no longer have time to talk about the second the second thing on my mind 🙂

Joel Maust

Joel Maust is a blogger, marketer and photographer living in the beautiful Flathead Valley of northwest Montana.

4 Comments

Otis

about 12 years ago

Thanks Maust. That's good stuff. God does just want us to fall in love with Him. Not do this or that but just focus on Him and love Him with our all.

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Joel

about 12 years ago

It's been a recurring theme in my life: crying out for something to focus on. I get sick of running around doing this and that, being scatter-brained both at work and home trying to juggle junk and stay on top of things--including my Walk. And God just keeps silently reminding me: I'm your focus, Joel. Keep a sharp eye on me and let me do my work. The tin part of me, as CS Lewis puts it, doesn't like that idea. Doesn't jive with the flesh. But if we believe Genesis 1, or John 20, or Revelation 21, we have to believe Matt. 6:33: "But seek first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these thigs will be given to you as well." For what's the greater miracle: God speaking the universe into existance, or Jesus rising from the dead, or a new heaven and earth being created...or God providing for us when we keep him the center?

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Randy

about 12 years ago

i love you man! i smell jesus when i'm around you.

Reply

Joel

about 12 years ago

Jesus doesn't stink, does he? I mean...I don't think they bathed much in the first century-- at least, not as much as we do now... :)

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