Going For Broke
Our culture has created an environment where truly following Christ is frowned upon. This is not just done by people far from God, but even people in our churches. Living according to God’s standards is radical, there is no other way to describe it. Far too often though, our Christian walk looks dangerously similar to the life of other “good” people we know. We get comfortable in our churches with our church friends. We take lightly the call to follow Christ. We see spiritual disciplines as great things to talk about, but secretly very few of them are present in our lives. We see them in the Bible, but we quickly pass over them and move on to other passages. I mean honestly, when is the last time you really prayed? I don’t mean for your meal or for your commute to work, but really put life aside and just prayed. Is repentance really a part of your everyday life? I don’t mean confessing sins, I mean turning away from areas of your life that do not lead you closer to Christ. Do you treasure God’s Word? I don’t mean like it, or even love it. I mean treasure it. What about fasting, and no that wasn’t one of those things in the Old Testament that changed after Christ came. Fasting is something we see repeatedly in the New Testament that seems more like an assumption rather than a command, and yet we rarely see it today.
All this comes to mind this week as I read through Hebrews 12. Why devote so many verses to “endurance” if the life of following Christ was so easy? Why use the word “discipline” so often if it weren’t supposed to be a part of our every day life? These are tough questions because the answers are pretty. No one really likes discipline and I can promise you it will never be fun or enjoyable. How do I know that? Hebrews 12:11 teaches that quite clearly and in spite of how difficult it is we are expected to live disciplined lives.
I can promise you one thing, I don’t say any of this as someone that has arrived because I definitely have not. I say all this because I have been reminded of it this week and see the lack of it in my life. The sermon this past Sunday was about fasting, the first sermon I have ever heard purely on fasting. The challenge was laid before us and I am currently on day two of the first fast of my life and I have to admit, it is not enjoyable. But I am learning so much through this time and then I am working through Hebrews 12 and I see the call to the difficult things following Christ calls for. Everything in me right now is screaming for me to eat. I am not really hungry, but I miss the act of eating. There is also this voice telling me, “Go eat, what good is fasting anyway. What do you really expect to happen? Stop wasting your time and get a Snickers bar, or some Cheetos from the vending machine.”
I have to admit, he knows where to attack because I love me some Cheetos. But I have to wonder why bother ending the fast if there is nothing to it. Why not just let me fast and learn for myself that nothing happens? That answer is simple, there is benefit to discipline, and fasting requires plenty of it. The questions for this week’s study is, “How can I be more consistent in living out my faith?” The answer is simple but difficult to embrace, Discipline. Following Christ requires discipline. The narrow road is less traveled for a reason. There are benefits to our relationship with our Father we miss out on because of a lack of discipline. So I want to pose the challenge as we wrap up another month of study, pray that God will show you one area of your relationship with Him that could be improved with you being more disciplined. I am not proposing a legalistic list of things to do everyday, but rather weaknesses you have hidden away because dealing with them is going to be difficult. Spend some time fasting from food and see what happens, see how much your mind is fixated on eating. See how you smell even the slightest trace of food in the air. And then wonder what it would be like to have that type of hunger for God’s Word and sensitivity to what He is doing around you. I don’t know what it will look like for you, for me it was going without something at the same time I searched for something else. Maybe you want to share what your journey looks like as you seek a closer walk with Christ, but ask the hard questions and be ready to respond with a difficult answer. It will require discipline, but when has anything good come easily? Go for broke this week and trust God to teach you as you do.