Are You Making Your Christian Life Painful?
You won’t win fighting God. Your desire for winning is bad for you. The prize for triumphing, if you could, is worse. But that won’t stop you from trying. Much of the misery in a Christian life comes from this single issue. You fight with Jesus as He goes about the process of making you holy. He is trying to bless you and you are struggling against it.
Are you not feeling rest in Jesus? Do you feel blessed and filled with the power of God? Does everything around you just seem like ashes with no hope of redemption? You may be locked in a great struggle. It is not Satan pulling against you. It is usually a much humbler battle. It is most often just you wrestling with God.
He wants you one way. He leads your life in one way. You want yourself a different way – usually easier, more comfortable, less holy, and with more channels on your TV. You want your agenda and you fight tooth and nail to get it. It is this battle that causes misery. You fight for what is bad for you and cause damage to yourself in the process. It is pointless and painful. It is also human.
Do You Seek Change?
Being transformed into the image of Jesus always involves loss to some extent. This is a good thing. You leave bad parts of yourself behind to be more like Jesus. This can be a continuously joyful process. This is 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 into something to be used by Jesus. It is the goal of all discipleship.
Yet, change can also be difficult. It can feel incredibly painful. It may seem like everything in life is against you. This happens when God’s refining conflicts with your will. God is never content to leave one of His kids in miserable sin. No matter how much you want to hold onto your plans and habits, God will not make it easy to do so. He will orchestrate a multitude of events and people to prompt you to repentance. God will use the sorrows and consequences that go along with sin and disobedience to light the way to His better path.
The question is 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, guess how pleasant that will be?
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.
Jesus promised He would give you rest.
He offered you an abundant life.
Paul exhorts you to pray and rejoice continuously. He then lived a life filled with persecution and pain with rejoicing and prayer. For more read What Do You Really Want from Jesus?
You cannot be radically transformed with joy if you are constantly fighting for control of your life. You have to actually come to Him and Lord and give the weights over to Him. He can easily handle and transform all the ashes into beautiful things. You can’t. If it is up to you, they will just remain blackened remnants of something you cared about.
Rebuilding the Strongholds of Sin
Jesus makes a point to emphasize personal holiness in the Gospels. His 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. Jesus clears the Temple a second time after the Triumphal Entry. He is acclaimed as King and Messiah by great crowds. It is a victory parade that shakes all of Jerusalem. The very next thing He does with all those eyes still on Him is to purify God’s house. There should be nothing allowed to get between God and His people. For more on this see God Picked You to Shine
Put yourself in the place of the money changers and sellers of sacrificial animals for a moment. They are religious Jews. They are engaged in a practice that has been sanctioned by the priest for many years. Their booths are their livelihood. They rely on them to feed their families. Their jobs provide their security. They made them lots of money. Then Jesus comes along and turns everything upside down. 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. It appears it returned to crooked business as usual. The money changers went back in and picked up their currency 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 returned to their tables and rebuilt the strongholds of sin in their life. They actively opposed Jesus’ attempt to clear out the crooked, corrupt, and chaotic. They reconstructed the barriers keeping them away from God. For more read Legalism Kills
Now add the fact they likely knew all about Jesus. All Israel heard of Jesus and His miracles by the second cleansing of the Temple. They would have known Jesus raised the dead and cleansed lepers. They may have know man born blind whose sight Jesus restored. They may have seen His miracles. They very likely heard Him teach. Jesus’ power and authority were impossible to ignore. This is the man who overturned their tables and kicked them out of the Temple.
How do you think they responded with these facts in mind?
You most likely know from experience how they reacted to Jesus. Just about every Christian has been in their shoes. It is how you choose to respond in just this situation in your life that dictates how much you enjoy walking with God. Your decision is the difference between the painful life in Christ and one of joy and abundance.
For more read Do You Want a Better New Year in Christ?
Jesus is going to come into your life and turn over a few of your tables. You are likely not offering sacrificial animals or changing Temple money. Hopefully, you are not 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 for you. They are the items in your walk that are causing corruption, chaos, and compromise. Jesus no more accepts these as the 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. If they are frustrating worship of Jesus in your life, Jesus will expose them and scatter them across the Temple courtyard. He causes a commotion in your life to save you not to harm you. He is not afraid of breaking a few eggs to get you to safety.
The question is whether you then spend your time and effort gathering the pieces back together and righting the tables? For more read What Do You Really Want from Jesus?
There are many loving believers today caught up in the transformations of their churches, for example. This where the leadership chooses to follow after the culture rather than Jesus. The church then starts preaching and embracing the things Jesus calls sin. Jesus does not accept this sitting down.
Jesus comes in and upsets each individual Christian’s table. He did not cause the problem and is not trying to inflict pain. He is simply not willing for His sheep to comfortably choose compromise. The Holy Spirit, therefore, works to make His people uncomfortable and unhappy with sin. His better will pulls against yours leaving you torn.
God knows their plan for life. He knows they want to stay at the same church for life like Mom and Dad. God understands that it should not be this way, but He is not willing to leave it alone just for the sake of comfort and routine. The Holy Spirit overturns their individual tables – their plans, their comfort, their enjoyment of Sunday and their own control – and asks the simple question.
“Are you following the King of Kings, Lord of Lords or are you following you?”
Those who chose themselves gather together their scattered coins and dutifully head back to their family church each Sunday….but are in great pain each week. They lament their loss and are frustrated by the present. There is no winning for them.
Those who listen to the Lord’s call leave and 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. For more, read God’s Service is a Privilege and Free Burma Rangers Movie – A Christian Review
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.
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.