What God Is Doing
I’ve had this post on my fingertips for 3 months now and every time I start I just can’t stop. So buckle up, because I’m writing and I’m not going to stop until I’m done.
It’s been almost 3 months since I last blogged. And I stopped journalling my days. And I stopped introspecting every last detail of my life. To put it short, I shot the chatterbox.
I have been reading 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians over and over again. They’re becoming my favorite letters. Yesterday I was in 1 Corinthians 3 and Paul tears into these people, saying, basically, I speak to you like infants. When are you going to understand?
Maybe that’s why these letters speak to me so much. Because I feel like there are two AJs. There’s the spiritual, leader-y, almost-always-knows-exactly-what-to-say AJ that has everything together and sometimes can even quote scripture from the top of his head. He’s put together and confident of who he is in Christ. He’s passionate and courageous. I can say all these things because I see that AJ and I have no personal connection to him whatsoever. I might as well be writing about Mel Gibson or Barack Obama or some other famous person I know but feel no connection to.
Then there’s the mean AJ everybody who knows me for more than 5 minutes knows. Vindictive, competitive, and pompous. That guy is an ass and a half, a total jerk, and often knows what to say, but only when it’s something that will push your buttons and make you hate me. Sin does not exist on the outer periphery of mean AJ, but has affected it through the core. He looks for praise to exalt himself, and looks for ways to push you down. All the better to push himself up with.
Again, I can say that because I feel no personal connection to him whatsoever.
So here I am. Two people. And moment by moment I get to pick which one I am. And day by day I feel like I usually pick the wrong one, or when I do pick the “right” one I worry about being called a hypocrite for dressing up as someone and something I’m not.
Getting back to the Corinthians – I feel like this is something I should have figured out in Jesus 101 or 102, at the latest.
And yet here I am. A supposed leader, someone that regularly teaches and gives spiritual guidance and I feel like two completely different people.
And in the past I would introspect every one of those thoughts to the very death. Beat that dead horse, baby.
But for the last 3 months I’ve largely stopped. I can’t say completely, because, let’s face it, you can’t take the self loathing out of the introspectors.
But I’ve come to realize this isn’t about me, or my mental issues. I can’t solve mean AJ’s problems by positive thinking. And I can’t solve my fear of hypocrisy by becoming better at sinning.
I’m stuck between two hard places and the only way out is up. And that is what God has been doing in my life. My whole life, but I’ve only begun to see it as clearly as I have in the last three months. This constant fight, back and forth. Good AJ/bad AJ/good AJ/bad AJ. Insert some cool reference to Galatians 5:17 that makes me look smart here.
In September I heard a message by John Piper where he exclaimed, you are already sinless. Now become in your physical life that which you already are spiritually. Mind blown.
Here I thought I had to fight and struggle and wrestle. That one day God would look at all this effort of avoiding sin and say, “Ok, you’re worth it!” But instead God says, “Ok, you’re worth it!” and because of that, what’s created inside our spirit is this desire to shed our flesh of sin.
Let me put it a different way. It is because we are Sin-Free spiritually (which is hard enough to get my mind around – but Jesus died to set you free from sin. Your sin record is erased, gone! removed! by the power of Christ’s blood) … It is because we are Sin-Free spiritually that we have this deep desire to fight the sin in our flesh.
Wrestling with sin is not evidence of a lack of Jesus’ power in our lives, but the very evidence for His power.
Let’s land this plane. The realization I’ve come to is that I thought that if I just thought more about the way I think (introspection) that I would figure out why I do the things I do. And, to a limit perhaps, that may be ok. But you can’t loosen the grip of sin on your life in your own head.
The path to conquering sin – and we are more than conquerors through Christ who gives us strength – is not in your own heart or your own head. Your path to being a conqueror is through a daily, strong and intimate connection with Jesus. Intimate sounds weird – but I can think of no bettie word to describe what it feels like to pray to Jesus – out loud even – “Hey I really screwed up when I …” and carry on a conversation.
I lost all my non-Christian friends long ago on what seems like the weird Jesus stuff. And I get that. But the times I came broken to Jesus immediately after my sin – and trust me, I’ve had plenty of opportunity – are the times I’ve felt most alive. Most free. And most forgiven.
What is God doing in my life?
He is taking over.
My one desire in 2015 is to have an unshakable faith in God despite a constantly shaking world. Faith that comes not by reading the Bible or doing small groups, or leading, or whatever. But faith that comes from knowing Jesus. Carrying my burdens to him daily. Listening for his voice and his guidance. Moving in faith and confidence to do the things I know he would have me to do even without explicit direction.
In short: to know and be known by God like never before.
Gulp. Here goes nothing.