I have been a Christian now for about 17 years. The more I learn the more I realize I don’t know. God has a funny way of humbling us and making us realize that we are not the centre of the universe, we are not what is most important. One of the greatest challenges any Christian faces is the life-long process of “denying ourselves‘ (Matt 16:24) and “walking in the Spirit” (Gal 5:17), or in other words living our lives to please God and not primarily ourselves. We will never fully realize this until we go to be with our Lord in heaven.
Jesus said “if you love me you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). It’s pretty clear. If we say we love God, we will inevitably strive to obey Him, to allow His Spirit within to refine us so that, bit-by-bit, we reflect His character. This is to glorify God’s work in our lives as well being a beacon to the hope Jesus gives to us all. What a privilege… what a blessing… what a calling on our lives!
Why then do we often struggle so much to see this in our lives? Why do we find ourselves so enticed to feed our own self-absorbed desires rather than God’s? Why do we struggle so much at times to walk with God and follow His lead in our lives?
Here are three points that I believe can help us all to follow and enjoy God more in our lives:
- We are sinful and need help… badly! No matter how good we, or others think we are, we are sinful before our holy and perfect God, going against Him by our very nature. What a fearful and sobering thought that God will judge us for our rebellion against Him. We need help if we are to be spared His judgement. The only way we can enjoy fellowship with God is trusting in the one person who was perfect, who was without sin – Jesus (2 Cor 5:10). He died the death we deserve so that we may receive eternal life with God. That is the good news that God has for you and me. While we were still sinners Christ died for us so that we could be spared Gods judgment and be with Him forever. Thank you Jesus!! We need to draw on that every day so we don’t lose hope.
- We are not the catalyst for change. People may see Christianity as trying to do all we can to please God, to follow Him… that our success in the Christian life hinges on how much we do what God commands us in the bible. Although that in a sense is correct, how we approach it is critical. Our success is not based on how good we are or what sacrifices we make, but rather resting on what Jesus has done. As we trust in Jesus, God looks at us through Jesus’ sacrifice and sees a precious child of His… without blemish… without the need to justify itself. Do you believe that? No matter what struggles you may be having in life, do you believe you are a precious child of Gods through your faith in Christ? In Romans 7 the apostle Paul testified to the struggles he had as a man, but then squashes his despair by taking the focus off himself and declaring that thanks be given to God alone for His salvation and that there is now no condemnation in Jesus (Rom 7:7 – 8:1). We are not the initiator or sustainer of change in our lives. God is. He changes us from within through what Jesus did for us and by the active work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The result is that we are able to stand before God without guilt, without condemnation. Truly believing that is integral to seeing our lives transformed to reflect God (Phil 2:12-13, Rom 8:1).
- Christ alone is sufficient (2Cor 3:4-6, 12:1-10, Rom 3:19-25, Eph 2:1-10). Despite the blessings we receive as we become a Christian, there is still the tendency to seek satisfaction for our souls elsewhere apart from Jesus. It never ceases to amaze me at my own tendency at times to seek solace in the arms of this world instead of Christ. Why?! Simply speaking I think it is the fact that we have a sinful nature within waring at our hearts to take supremacy for itself. It can start subtly, but before we know it we are craving and hungering idols and desires of this world instead of drawing close to our Creator and Sustainer. How do we prevent this? I feel it centers on believing that Christ is fully sufficient. He is sufficient for our salvation. He is sufficient for filling our hearts with the joy, peace and satisfaction we crave. He is sufficient to enable us to be effective instruments for God to use. His Word is all that we need to discover and learn God’s will. He alone is sufficient for all that we need to live for and enjoy God.
The Christian life isn’t about trying harder to live for God. Its about realising, acting on and praising God for the fact that Jesus Christ alone is sufficient to save, mature and fulfill us. Whilst God has given us the responsibility to choose and act according to His declared will in the Bible, it is only possible by drawing on the sufficiency of Christ in our lives and relying on the grace and mercy He gives to us every day through the work of His Spirit within. No more fretting about whether we think we are good enough. No more feeding insecurities of doubt and despair. Lets focus our energy each day not on our efforts, but on what God has done for us in Jesus and rest in the salvation that He freely gives. Lets trust that in following God He will fulfill our deepest desires and give us all we need to live for and enjoy Him. Let’s never forget that Jesus alone is sufficient.