I Hope I Am Dissatisfied

About 2 weeks ago I ran a half-marathon.  I spent about 3 months training for it.  I ran/biked 5 days a week religiously.  All the hard work paid off and was very rewarding.  But now, it’s been two weeks and I have not been out to run 1 time.

I started a blog about 6 months ago.  It took about 3 months to hit my stride.  I was going strong with a couple thought-out posts per week.  But lately I’ve been so busy and I don’t feel like I’ve had any significant thoughts worth sharing, I’ve hardly posted anything new.

This pattern seems to be, well, a pattern with me.  Perhaps with all of us?  What is it that causes us to loose steam?  This really troubles me when it comes to my relationship with God.  How many times have I been to what we Christians call a “mountain top experience” (that’s when you go to a conference, week of camp, highly emotional/energizing/hyped event) and sooner or later I come right back to where I was before.  What is it that keeps us in that rut?

Somehow I was able to train 5 days a week for 12 weeks. I did not see failure or giving up as an option.  But for some reason, when it comes to my relationship with God, I don’t seem to have the same drive to work on it.  Perhaps it just gets too hard.  Perhaps I just gravitate toward what’s easy and what’s familiar.  Toward what feels good.  Or perhaps it’s my flesh fighting for it’s life.

Here’s what Francis Chan says on this topic in Chapter Five of Crazy Love:

Let’s face it.  We’re willing to make changes in our lives only if we think it affects our salvation.  This is why I have so many people ask me questions like, Can I divorce my wife and still go to heaven? Do I have to be baptized to be saved?  Am I a Christian even though I’m having sex with my girlfriend? If I commit suicide, can I still go to heaven?  If I’m ashamed to talk about Christ, is He really going to deny knowing me?

To me, these questions are tragic because they reveal much about the state of our hearts.  They demonstrate that our concern is more about going to heaven than loving the King.  Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). And our question quickly becomes even more unthinkable: Can I go to heaven with out truly and faithfully loving Jesus?

I don’t see anywhere in Scripture how the answer to that question could be yes.

I don’t know that I’m more concerned about heaven then I am about loving Jesus.  The question I think I live by is similar: How much do I really have to give up and still be considered obedient to Jesus commands?  Can I give control of most of my life (51% can be considered most) and still consider myself a “follower” of Jesus?  I seem to find myself hearing or sensing Jesus’ nudges in my life but I act like I don’t hear Him.

God: “Hey Ben, you really should [fill in the blank]”

Me: “Um., what?  Sorry, did you say something?” (quick, change the subject – maybe He won’t ask again! I can’t be expected to obey that if I didn’t hear it, right?)

If I’m honest, I could make a pretty long list of things that I prefer to still be in charge of in my life.  Until I decide that I’m going to give up those rights, I reckon I’ll continue to be dissatisfied.

But I don’t want to settle for that.  I hope I continue to be more and more dissatisfied with my life so maybe I’ll finally feel the need to give the rest of it to Jesus.  I’m sure that He would like that very, very much.  And I’m sure I would , too.

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  1. To me, it sounds as though Chan is promoting salvation through works. When we come to Christ, we have ourselves to give, and nothing else. For me, Jesus was my Savior long before I allowed Him to be my Lord. Does that mean that in that time period I would not have gone to heaven? And if I am honest, there are still parts of my life that I hold onto with great vigor and refuse to turn over. But does that mean that my salvation is in jeopardy? No. However, it does mean that I will never know the true fulfillment of the life that Jesus wants for me here. Petrifying thought really. I want to love Jesus with my whole heart, and allow Him to reign completely. I am just questioning Chan’s conclusion that he has drawn.

    1. Funny you said that. In the next chapter he has the following paragraph:

      Perhaps it sounds as though I believe you have to work your way to Jesus. I don’t. I fully believe that we are saved by grace, through faith, by the gift of God, and that true faith manifests itself through our actions. As James writes, “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action , is dead” (2:17). The lives of many people who call themselves “Christians” in America lack manifestations of a vital and active faith.

      You bring up a very tough theological question, though. It almost sounds like another angle on the Eternal Security debate. I think that a lot, if not all, rests on your heart’s desires. If you accept Jesus forgiveness and are baptized into His death, burial and resurrection, and from that point on want with all your heart to please Him but are too young a Christian to have had much opportunity to surrender various parts of your life, I can’t see Jesus faulting you. In fact, now that I think of it, from the moment we become a Christian to the moment our life on this earth ends, every one of us is on the same spectrum. Is there a difference between the baby Christian who has committed his life to Jesus yet still has 90% to surrender and the seasoned Christian who has surrendered 90%?

      I think what it boils down to, and what Chan is getting at, making positive changes in your life based on “what’s in it for me” is missing the whole point. Making life changes based on your love for Jesus IS the point.

      You are right about the abundant life. All we are doing by holding on to our lives is robbing ourselves of true life.

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