It happens every week. For some pastors it happens everyday. Sometimes I get angry, sometimes I get frustrated, sometimes I get hurt, sometimes I am devastated, sometimes I am at a loss, and on a few occasions, I don’t care as much as maybe I should.
In the Navy we had the Preventive maintenance System (PMS). It’s like changing the oil regularly in your car. It minimizes the chance of serious mechanical troubles. In life though, people only come to me when their life turns into a mess (a major mechanical failure to keep with the PMS analogy). Troubled marriages, wayward kids, spouses that don’t remember that they vowed their love, devotion, and fidelity to their spouse. Do you remember that old commercial from years ago? The mechanic look at the camera and says, “You can pay me now or pay me later.” That’s the idea here. You can walk in the Spirit or you can walk in the flesh. It’s a choice. Don’t get me wrong, my passion is helping people work through their problems using the Scriptures to provide comfort, guidance, and direction to their life. My big beef is that people say one thing, but believe another. Is God strong enough, loving enough, just enough, fair enough, caring enough, or powerful enough to handle the problems in someone’s life? Of course He is so why don’t we trust Him? That’s the big question.
We live in a culture that had changed the Gospel to something that it is not. Salvation in Christ is not a free ticket to heaven. When Christ indwells our hearts, He expects some things to change (Romans 12:1-2, 2 Cor. 5:17, Galatians 5, 1 John 3). It’s not about works or acting a certain way. He really expects us to change. That’s the problem with a lot of folks. They don’t want to change. The Scriptures are extraordinarily clear about what is expected of Christians. It’s called walking in the Spirit.
Salvation is not walking the aisle, is not being baptized, is not saying the sinner’s prayer, and is not about being a member of a church. None of these things are “bad”, but can lead to a false sense of security. Do you have the same thoughts, passions, goals, and desires as you did before radically changed you? Maybe you don’t consider yourself a “super” Christian. You know the type, right? Super Christians are the ones who are actively involved in a local ministry, they share their faith with friends, family members, and the really super Christian share their faith with anyone who might be willing to listen, they even tithe 11%.
Here’s the question of the day: Why do we want to excel in everything except our walk with the Lord?
Many of the Christians I cross paths with are content to be average Christians. But in their personal lives, it’s different. They’re fanatical sports fans never missing a game, they want their children to be on the honor roll, and they work hard in their job because the boss requires it. When it comes to the spiritual side of life, they’re content to read their Bible once in a while, they consider themselves very involved in the church because they attend more often than some people, and they pray often (before some meals).
But then it happens. Life deals them a painful blow: an affair, abuse, financial problems, a child gives a parent fits, a lost job, a bad report from the doctor. The list is endless. That’s when my phone rings. Catastrophic mechanical failure. Life happens to all of us and I want to help, some might say I’m equipped to help. So why don’t people want to follow the one thing that brings assurance? No, it’s not me, it’s God the Father, it’s the Lord Jesus Christ, it’s the Holy Spirit, it is the Word of God. Here’s the unspoken desire to be average. When life is going pretty good, we don’t have much time for God – everything is cool, right? Then it happens. Now all of a sudden God is a priority. The prayer chain gets lit up, church attendance increases dramatically, they find time to search for comfort in the Bible. Before there was no desire to perform the PMS necessary for an authentic walk with the Lord. Now? Major maintenance period.
If we are to be authentic Christians, we need to remember the words found in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” God wants us to prosper, He doesn’t want harm to come to His children, but sometimes it does. We need to be running (present tense) to the Lord, we need to be pursuing righteousness, we need to be running the race, and we don’t need to react to circumstances. God wants to be our first choice, not our last resort.
I think the primary purpose of our lives is to, “. . . know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” (Philippians 3:10) Everything we endure is to know Christ better. The better you know Christ, the greater your desire to really follow Him. Everything else in life naturally follows. That doesn’t mean problems go away and life is all peachy and rosy, it means that you are able to handle life in a biblical manner. It’s time for us to live our lives for Christ.