Are You Making Your Christian Life Painful?
You won’t win fighting God. But that won’t stop you from trying. Much of the misery in a Christian life comes from this simple issue. Jesus tries to bless you. You struggling against it. He wants you one way. He leads your life in one way. You want yourself a different way, usually the easier, more comfortable, and less holy one. Yet, it is exactly this desire Jesus calls you to lay down. You fight for what is bad for you and cause damage to yourself in the process.
Are you tired and worn out? Does your life seem filled ashes with no hope of redemption? Are you exhausted?
You may be locked in this struggle. It is not Satan pulling against you. It is a much humbler battle. You against God. His will vs. yours. Wrestling with God is something you should never do as a Christian. Yet, we do it all the time. It often defines our walks with Him.
It is pointless and painful. It is also human.
Do You Want to be Made Well?
Being transformed into the image of Jesus involves loss. This is a good thing. You leave bad parts of yourself behind to be more like Jesus. This is joyful process how God designed it. You get to watch the Holy Spirit do His thing on you. You then see Him work on people around you through your changes. This is sanctification at work. It involves a fundamental change of you and your life by Jesus. It is the goal of discipleship.
Yet, it can be difficult. It may feel painful. It may seem like everything in life is against you. There is a simple reason for it. God’s refining often conflicts with your will. He is never content to leave you to your own plans. No matter how much you want to hold onto your agenda, God will not make it easy to do so. He will orchestrate events and people to lead you to His way. God will use the sorrow and consequence of sin and disobedience to light the way to His better path.
The question then is simple, “How painful do you want your Christian life to be before you go along with God?”
If God is forced to transform you kicking and screaming, it is going to hurt. If you joyfully accept His will, it will be wonderful. Your choice.
Life is not simple as a follower of Christ. Jesus did not guarantee your life would be easy and not be filled with tribulations. All of the world faces challenges. The huge difference in Jesus is how you face the troubles.
You cannot be radically transformed with joy if you are constantly fighting for control of your life. You have to actually come to Him as Lord. He can easily handle and transform all the ashes into beautiful things. You can’t.
Rebuilding the Strongholds of Sin
Jesus’ ministry begins with cleaning out the Temple. Jesus turns over the tables and drives out the money changers to make a point. He does not tolerate the chaotic, crooked, and wicked in the house of God. There should be nothing allowed to get between God and His people.
Put yourself in the place of the money changers and sellers of sacrificial animals for a moment. They are Jews. Their work has been sanctioned by the priests. Their booths are their livelihood. Their jobs provide their security. Then Jesus comes along and tears them apart. He scatters their money and animals and kicks them out of the Temple.
God literally came along and turned their whole world upside down. They thought their lives were ok. They had the backing of the authorities and the support of men. Jesus exposed the evil of what they were doing.
How do you think they reacted?
The Bible gives you a clue. Jesus goes back a second time to clear out the Temple at the end of His ministry. It had returned to crooked business as usual. The money changers went back in and picked up their coins Jesus scattered in disgust. The animal sellers turned their tables back over and began fleecing pilgrims once again. They had money to make, futures to protect, and families to feed. They rebuilt the strongholds of sin in their life. They actively opposed Jesus’ attempt to clean them out.
It seems silly when you read about it. God Himself flipped their lives upside down. They clean up the damage and get back to the same old plan. Yet, every Christian has been in their shoes. Jesus came into your life and turned over a few of your tables and it hurts. You are not offering sacrificial animals or stealing from God’s people like they were. But every Christian has things in life you are relying on for security and prosperity that are contrary to Jesus’ plan. They are things causing corruption, chaos, and compromise in your walk…but you love them. Jesus is not a respecter of your opinion if it is based in sin. He no more accepts your status quo than He did with the money changers. If they are against God’s will for you, Jesus will overturn them to offer you a way out. He may cause a commotion in your life to save you from you. He is not afraid of breaking a few eggs to get you to safety.
The question is not whether it will happen. It is what you do in response? Do you rejoice and repent? Or do you fight to gather the pieces back together and righting the tables?
Jesus has the right to upset your table. He did not cause your problem and is not trying to inflict pain. He is simply not willing for His sheep to be comfortable in rebellion. The Holy Spirit will make you uncomfortable and unhappy with sin.
“A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once.”
Those who listen to the Lord’s call suffer a loss but only for a moment. They also are privileged to experience the joy and excitement of suffering a loss for following Jesus.
This same picture applies to addiction, pornography, careers, marriages and to your entire life. Jesus will lead you. Jesus will challenge you. He will even pull apart and expose things in your life that are hurting your relationship with Him. He does this because He loves you. These things are hurting you and God wants you safe. Escape may require temporary discomfort but it leads to life. When you fight against the Lord’s direction, it is only pain leading to more loss and waste.
Are you willing to follow His lead?
Has Jesus turned over a table in your life? Has He shown you things you think are ok and that provide security and prosperity are not good for you?
How are you responding? This is often what defines your walk with Jesus.
Do you listen when Jesus speaks? How do you listen, with what attitude?
Jesus wants to bless you abundantly. Your tables in your life can never truly compete with His leading.
Don’t keep fighting to put things back together that Jesus wants torn apart. Are you done wrestling with God yet? If not, how is that working out for you?