The act of running is perhaps the most telling disposition of my character. To run you really need two things, legs to run on and the mental drive to actually go and run. I lack the latter. Even when I do motivate myself to run, I have the mental disposition of a sprinter. What that means practically is that I go fast and hard for short distances but quickly burn out and start crawling across the sidewalk as I desperately gasp for air (take a moment to picture this so you can understand my pain). To say that I find running hard would be an understatement. It’s not the athletic part that I have trouble with; it’s the mental. Walking with God can be like that. The desire to live godly can be there, but will we? And if we do, how much effort are we going to put forth? Let’s tackle each of these in stride (Haha).
Before a runner can run, they have to have the desire to do so. If we want to live godly, we have to have the desire to do so. Some people would argue that any person can or cannot have the desire to live rightly, whether they are Christian or not. However, if we take a look at Galatians 5:17, we can see something rather remarkable, “For the desires of the flesh are against the desires of the Spirit and the desires of the Spirit are against the desires of the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things that you want to do.” Without the desire of the Spirit there is nothing to oppose our evil desires. Those desires might look good, but our sinful bent glorifies us, not God. This leads us to the second point.
In order to run, a runner must have the ability to do so. The same is true to live godly. Without Christ it is impossible to do that. We can infer this from the Galatians passage sited above, but I think a passage in Romans lays it out more bluntly. Romans 14:23 says this, “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.“ Youch! Even if you eat some food without faith it is sin. And by extension, every human being that does anything anywhere sins if they don’t do so in faith (double youch). Therefore, everything you do apart from faith in Christ is sin. So for the non-Christian it isn’t just hard to follow him, it is impossible!
Ok so it’s impossible for the non-Christian to live life well. Fine. I get it. What about me? I’m a Christian and life is excruciatingly hard. Why did God make it that way?
Unlike the non-Christian, the Christian can live in a way that pleases God, by faith (whatever that means). We also have passages like 1 Corinthians 10:13a “No temptation has overtaken you except that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what your ability…” So, when we fall it isn’t because we had no choice, like before we came to Christ, it’s because we had that choice and when the option was presented to us we said “God, I want to be God.” Ok, so it’s our choice. But why does it have to be hard?
God loves to ask the question, “Do you really love me?” Now that might sound cruel, especially when he hits you where it hurts, but it hurts because we have made something besides him God. Choosing to accept God as God is hard. Keeping him there is much harder because now we have that war raging inside us that Galatians talks about. The reason it’s hard to follow him is because we have to die and he has to become our God. But the awesome thing about God is that he takes us back when we fail. John puts it this way in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The beauty of the gospel is that we don’t need to run a perfect race, but I think we express our love for God and give him praise when we give our run at life our best shot. The real question is: do love God enough to run after him with everything you’ve got?
As always comments or questions are welcome.