disclosure: my thinking is not entirely swung in this direction, but this is a call to a more balanced approach to mission and sanctification. such will be the aim of this particular entry.
I may have mentioned this before, but I have a belief that 21st Century America is the hardest place in the world to be a Christian. Not because we are challenged or under threat of death, but because we aren’t – I never go to church wondering if I’ll leave alive. I never have to fear talking about my faith or my biblically-inspired tattoo because I know that the chances are really good people will just smile and nod, not assault me.
But does that make Christianity easier?
No, in fact, I think it’s harder as a result.
I’ll touch on this in a later post, but for now, I want to focus on something else. For now, I want to talk about the idea of struggling.
“struggle” is a word that is annoyingly prominent in the modern American vernacular, and the modern American Christian vernacular.
“Stuck in traffic. Why’d I go downtown during rush hour? #thestruggleisreal” I made that up, but if I told you it was a real Facebook status, I’ll bet you’d believe me, because we’ve changed the meaning of “struggle.” And talking to people my age within the Christian community, we’ll use the word “struggle” to describe our relationships with sin – I ‘struggle’ with masturbation, I ‘struggle’ with anger, people ‘struggle’ with financial management, etc.
But as I, internally, review the things we ‘struggle’ with, I wonder how many of them are kingdom struggles? That is, which of these are things that stand in the way of the Kingdom of God advancing?
In relation to my initial comment, I don’t believe that it’s good for us to just let sin have its way – I think it’s good to fight with masturbation, lust, pornography, anger, a lack of responsibility, laziness, fear, etc. Fight it hard. That’s a good thing.
But I think those are primarily internal struggles, and I don’t see them as the most fruitful types of struggles. I think it’s good for us to undergo sanctification – making us more like Jesus – but I think that sanctification comes second to the kingdom advancing. Can the two go hand in hand? Sure. But I think the Kingdom advancing is the most important thing.
So my new perspective is this: if the biggest ‘struggle’ we have in our walks with Jesus are internal things, it’s hardly a struggle at all. Instead, I’d rather view a struggle in a more outward manner. I’d rather see my friend who doesn’t know Jesus as a struggle – someone I pray for, someone I fast for, someone I talk to, someone I love, someone I think about, someone I contend for spiritually until they come to know His saving knowledge – that should be a struggle.
Changing the culture of a workplace from a culture of domineering, discouragement, and unrest to a culture of grace, encouragement, and helpfulness – that should be a struggle.
Changing the way you use your finances from using them for your own personal gain and security – which can be rooted in idolatry – that should be a struggle AND that goes hand in hand with sanctification!
I entirely believe that sanctification is an important thing, but it is not the only thing nor is it the ultimate thing – it is part of the massive plan that is bringing God’s Kingdom to earth.
That’s the ultimate thing.