Here is my hope for all of us:
That we would count it all joy when we meet trials of various kinds.
That when life is simple and lovely, our hope would continue in the steadfast love of the Lord.
That when storms come and life becomes uncertain and murky, our hope would continue in the steadfast love of the Lord.
However, at times, there is a mash-up of the two seasons; simple and murky. You’re weakly plodding through life, getting from one day to the next. Knowing what you should be doing, but having little desire or diligence to get there.
In church circles, this is known as a spiritual desert – no shade, no water, no civilization…
Languishing in the heat, you see what could be, but are too spent to seek after it.
Yet Paul begs otherwise.
In his letter to the Colossians (who were Christians under the Roman rule of Emperor Nero), he not only reminds them of who they were and what God has done, but how that should play out tangibly in their life. While Christ in us in a mystery, it is certainly not a stagnate one.
Input equals output, so to speak.
“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard…”
If we were these things – hateful, an enemy of God – and by his good grace and mercy, he has washed us whiter than snow; removing our transgressions as far as the east is from the west, then we should desire to do what is right and good and honoring.
If Christ in is in me, then I am being renewed, transformed, sanctified.
I should be consistently bearing the fruit of the Spirit, even if in “barely-there” increments.
I should be able to look back 2 years, 5 years, 10 years ago, and see a difference for the better in myself.
This is hard work. This is daily picking up my cross. This is daily fleeing from the temptation to sin. This is daily pursuing righteousness. This is daily seeking to give glory to God and not myself.
This is daily, hourly, minutely, killing sin. This is walking the narrow path.
What we tend to do, what seems much easier (the wide path), is to continue in our way, our sin, our folly, and simply claim God’s grace and forgiveness yet completely miss what his grace and forgiveness is all about and what it enables us to accomplish.
Here is what we fail to acknowledge at some level:
…WE are responsible.
Or, put another way, God is 100% sovereign and we are 100% responsible.
He presents us holy and blameless, because Christ is holy and blameless so that we will continue in our faith – the hope of the gospel.
The problem is, we like to claim God’s sovereignty but not our responsibility. It is not an either/or, it is a both/and. All because of Jesus.
Our salvation is not based on our works, this is undeniably true, however, there will be good works out of a natural overflow of our love for God and a heart filled with gratitude for what he has done for us, in our place.
I dare say, if you are wallowing in your sin, continuing in your folly, claiming you “struggle” yet have no desire to move past your struggle, the love of Christ be not in you. We don’t justify our sins because justification has all ready been accomplished for us.
For the love of Christ should compel us, so that we may no longer live for ourselves, walking according to the flesh (which leads to death) but for Him, according to the Spirit, because only in Him and through Him, do we find life and peace.
– Laurel Ewing, Women’s Ministry Director