Though I’ve been a Believer most of my life, I only recently came to the “revelization” (revelation plus realization) that many of the most common experiences in the Christian walk often lead to feelings of frustration—and in the very worst cases, disillusionment with Christianity itself. The following five facts may help ease the pressure some Christ-followers may feel.
It isn’t easy. Following Christ in the manner He intended us to follow Him is difficult. Christ challenged societal norms and rejected religious hypocrisy. He was Kingdom-focused and preached that message more frequently than any other. He reduced the Old Testament commandments to one admonishment, “Love God and Love People,” knowing that in order to do that successfully, all the commandments would need to be kept! After all, you can’t love your neighbor and steal from him, lie to him, or cheat with his wife! And you can’t love God and misuse His name or worship other gods, right? Clearly, those who say Christianity is a crutch have never lived the Christian life. A crutch, by definition, is something that supplies inadequate or temporary support—being a Christ-follower does neither. Just read the New Testament and you’ll understand that Christianity is filled with selfless living designed to exalt God and others above our own fleshly desires. Following Christ is not easy, but has its eternal rewards.
Love doesn’t come naturally. Listen, there’s a reason the writers of the New Testament continually tell us to “put on love.” We must put on love every day as we do our clothing because love isn’t something we’re suddenly good at just because we’ve become Believers. Love is an action, and when done correctly can be a painful exercise. In fact, I Corinthians 13 is by far one of the most challenging books in the Bible. Paul essentially tells us that every accomplishment, every good deed, and every spiritual endeavor is worthless without love. Then he goes on to describe the attributes of love: it is patient, kind, keeps no account of wrong-doing, longsuffering, bears all things, believes all things. Essentially, love is perfect. And we are imperfect. Only through intimacy with Christ can we marry the two, and the union must take place daily if we are to love as we’ve been commanded to do.
It’s not all about church. Yes, the Word tells us not to forsake meeting with other Believers. Yes, the Word tells us that the church is designed for the equipping of the saints. However, church should not be the central focus of a Believer’s life—Christ should be. I know that seems like an obvious statement, yet how many times have you found yourself so bogged down by church activities that you forsake your relationship with the Lord? Our lives and our families should be Christ-centered. If you are looking solely to the church to teach your children godliness, you are misdirected. If the only spiritual food you receive comes from inside the church walls, you will never have the balanced diet required to grow to maturity in Christ.
Believer, if you want a satisfying walk with Christ, you must be proactive. Get in the Word and get to know Christ on your own. Help your family do the same.
“No” isn’t a dirty word. Frustrated Christians are often exhausted people who never seem to say “no.” As Believers, we must prioritize our lives; God first, others second. We often get this order reversed and put the needs of others ahead of our relationship with Christ. Ideally, we should seek God to know exactly which things we should say “yes” to, and for everything else give a kind, confident “no.”
Everything may not turn out like you expect. The Word is filled with amazing promises for those who follow Christ. Some of these blessings we inherit immediately; others won’t come until eternity. Have you ever considered that Israel is STILL waiting for many of the Old Testament promises to come to pass? Consider Jeremiah 23:5-6, ““The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety”. (NIV) Though we know this passage refers to Christ, He still has not presented Himself as conquering king, and Israel has yet to “dwell in safety.” Though we cannot waiver in our faith, we must understand that God’s timetable is not our timetable, and His ways are often misunderstood. If we expect our lives to flow in a certain manner or the outcome to be within certain parameters, we will surely be disappointed. One thing we know for certain, however, is that “all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Rm 8:28). All things. If we as Believers will BELIEVE this one passage, and filter our experiences through the truth of God’s Word (rather than our perception of the truth) much of our frustration can become a thing of the past!
As we begin 2016, let us be reminded to “be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves]” (Heb. 4:11, Amp.) Let us only strive, dear readers, to enter God’s rest—to truly experience it for ourselves. Thanks be to God, our rest was earned through the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ, so we have every reason to celebrate another new year!
By Lisa Jenkins-Moore
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