I really don’t like dodgeball-not even in the slightest, but I grew up in a youth group and for whatever unspoken reason, dodgeball came with that territory. I still find it fascinating how I am the minority for not wanting giant rubber objects hurled at my body, but some things will always remain a mystery won’t they? Anyways, I didn’t want to be that person who wouldn’t even try so I developed a strategy, once that whistle shrilled to start I would sprint up to the front lines and immediately get tagged out. I know what you’re thinking…” Isn’t that just as bad as not even participating in the first place?” Probably; but in my head it made me feel better than just sitting out from the get-go. I think as Christians, specifically those of us who have walked with the Lord for a long time now, many of us use my flawed dodgeball logic in the places we struggle with; not wanting to feel the guilt of opting out of obedience, so we sign-up only to disqualify ourselves from the game early on, but hey, at least we can’t technically say we didn’t try right? Just like you probably knew when I explained my dodgeball tactic, this kind of logic, when applied to our lives is not only senseless, but as Believers it’s downright disobedient and unloving.
Maybe you wrestle with your temper, so you promise to give your co-workers 3 strikes before you let loose on them. What about sexual immorality? Maybe you say you won’t look at something unless it just pops up or think about it unless someone else mentions it first. Pride is also a big one, so perhaps you promise not to self-promote but then your friends start to brag on you so you have to give in to the ego-boost. Do you see what I’m getting at? When we acknowledge areas of weakness, it can be so easy for us to think we’re being obedient by making some sort of a faulty action plan, when in reality we expect (and maybe even hope for) defeat; for an excuse to give in without saying we didn’t even try. This kind of faith is one that leaves a legalistic stench all over our country, and as Believers I think we’ve become afraid to put skin in the game because we’ve forgotten who we’re playing for and what we’re playing for. I think Paul explains this better when he says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-4
Paul is NOT saying that we don’t have earthly struggles- not even close, but what he is getting at is that when it comes to battling sin, we tend to fight the masks instead of the actors behind them. As much as we want to get onto Moses for questioning God, saying “Oh my Lord, I am not eloquent either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and tongue.” (Exodus 4:10), I think it’s a fair representation of how many of us feel when called by God to stand up against the evil in ourselves and in this world. The tempers, the lust, the selfishness, etc. are all acts of treachery against the Lord and are battles we can only win by His power. This is why God responds to Moses’ disbelief by saying, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute or deaf or seeing or blind? Is it not I the Lord? Now therefore go and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” (Exodus 4:11-12). To think that because God called us to something heavenly, we are therefore qualified to face it on our own is about as logical as my dodgeball tactic, but we do this all the time. Like Lee said on Sunday, “Salvation is not the same thing as liberation.” When we accept Christ into our lives it’s for so much more than just that one moment, and this especially applies for times when we are faced with our sin. Liberation is the result of sanctification and this is a process that is literally impossible without God because even with your accountability groups, therapy, and community (all great things by the way) it is ultimately done by His power. We’re going to have moments where we want to turn back, where we remember the promises in the past but wonder if they’re true for our future, and where we get so fed up with the struggle that we deceive ourselves into thinking we can end it in our own. In these places of fear, frustration and doubt we can take courage and have hope because although we may have well hit rock bottom be it internally or externally, we serve a God who’s in the business of raising His people up. Want some more proof? Finish the story we started Sunday.