July 4, 2018
Continued from June 27, 2018
… The key to spiritual malaise lies in the little three-letter word “did.” For many Christians, their spiritual resume’ consists of one past event— a time when they did believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. That salvation moment could be anywhere from six months ago to six years to forty-six years ago. It did happen! But, nothing has happened since.
To some degree, most Christians experience this post-salvation despondency. We are saved and expect an eternal life of peace and happiness. But experience proves this to be a wrong assumption. Like the disciples, confronting a sudden storm on Lake Galilee, we expected clear skies and smooth sailing, but we experience winds and turbulent seas. These storms may be small or large. But each storm creates and helps perpetuate doubt, anxiety, and perplexity. Christians may begin to question the validity of their salvation.
If we are not careful, we may even think that the Lord had abandoned us. Our eyes, like those of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, can be restrained, so that we do not recognize our walking partner. We, like the two disciples, become focused on self—our expectations, our disappointments, and our problems. We have heard the news of the empty tomb but fail to experience the presence and power of the Risen Lord.
Our journey to Emmaus may lead to worship attendance without worshipping; hearing sermons but failing to receive a message; Bible study but no lesson application and prayer without power. The mountain-top life we expected turns out to be a down-in-the-valley existence; our road from the Cross to the everyday reality becomes filled with obstacles and disappointments. We expected abundance and a life of ease. We got obstacles and a life of struggle.
All Christians struggle—some less, some more. We all face difficulties daily. It is not that we face obstacles, but how we react to the barriers that determine whether or not we grow spiritually. We know that if you were to cut open the caterpillar’s cocoon to release the butterfly that you would speed its death. The emerging imago needs the birthing struggle to help it develop its muscles and wings to fly.
Christians face constant tension—the conflict between our sinful nature and our new spiritual life— exposing us to two powerful and opposing forces seeking to bring us under its influence. Though we have a new life, the old life still exerts a powerful attraction. Unless we are careful, we will drift back to the old way of living. Continuing to mature as Christians is a struggle, and you don’t have to look very far to see that there are thousands upon thousands of Christians who have given up the fight and live spiritually unproductive and unfulfilled lives.
The apostle Paul testified to this problem, “For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15). The same subject was on his mind in his letter to the Galatians, “For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other so that you don’t do what you want” (Galatians 5:17).
In Hebrews, the writer addressed immature, unskilled, untrained Christians who only partook of milk and not solid food, that is, they were still infants— babies in Christ. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers,” he wrote, “you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14).
Though these spiritual “infants” had been born again, they were still dripping baptismal water. They had come up out of the water but had not left the water for dry land and a maturing life of walking with God. God wants us to grow and mature in our faith and our relationship with Him. In doing this, we honor Him and grow in our walk with Him. (Continued July 11, 2018)