Progress is Overrated
It’s been awhile, like a long time to be exact. I could use the excuse that I have a 1.5 year old daughter who rules our household and I never have time to do anything for myself. But that would be a lie. I wish I could say its because of my travel schedule and there isn’t enough time to sit and really digest what has been going on, but that just isn’t the truth either.
The truth of the matter is that last year I felt more distant in my relationship with God than I have in a long time. It snuck up on me too and I didn’t even realize it. With all the changes in my family things got moving so quickly and my intimacy with the Lord was shelved. Here is the scary part, I didn’t feel like I even needed God because I was fine. Things weren’t bad. So if I was really honest, I just didn’t even notice it.
Then I did. It hit me like a rock when I looked up from the smoke and realized it. So naturally I decided that something had to change. I was going to focus, get disciplined, and start taking things seriously with the Lord. I needed to progress in my relationship with Jesus. I was distant and if I could just get BACK to where I was with him; I would feel more assured that I’m intimate with Jesus. I needed to close the gap on my distance between me and God
Back to where I was? More assued? Close the gap on the distance from God?
Where did this mindset come from? Where did this theology come from? I needed to be washed clean. I needed a Gospel rich bath to clean off the dirt of “MEology” that was burying me.
I needed to rediscover the Gospel for my weary, drowning, identity distorted soul. I was desperate for living water, but kept quenching my thirst with more salt.
I was running hard after trying to accomplish a lie. And I kept failing at it. Finally I had enough and the Spirit does what He promises; convicts and guides me into righteousness.
If you go back and read my first paragraph I said, “I felt more distant in my relationship with God.” This is why theology is so important! Our theology directly reflects our identity and what we believe about the content of the Gospel shapes how we feel towards God and how we think God perceives us. Is it possible for me a believer who has heart has been regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit, to positionally be distant from God? I think this is where Paul yells, “By no means!” Romans 8:39 says otherwise: “nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”. Nothing. NOTHING. NOTHING!
But wait, can’t our sin effect our intimacy with Jesus? Yes. But my sin, my apathy never once has ever affected my distance of nearness to how God perceives me. I am still His son. I am still His. So why do I feel like God is distant from me? Is it because I’m not doing X,Y,Z? “By NO MEANS!” I feel like God is distant because I have chosen to not believe. My distance was not a problem between me and God, my problem was between me and my belief. My feeling of distance was not an action issue, it was a GOSPEL ISSUE. I had forgotten the simple truth of Christ’s already full purchase of my righteousness and standard with God. That instantly birthed worship, gratitude, and humility!
And then there was, “if I could just get back to where I was”. Who is this guy? Why was I believing these lies. It’s crazy how quickly I went from believing a small lie to running hard after something that provided no peace. Once again though, to get back to where I was was implying that I was spiritually better than I was today. Some of you might think that it’s okay and actually right to think that we can grow spiritually, and I agree. But we must be careful with that, because all of our flesh want to claim that and wear it like a badge of honor. We don’t even notice it and it can start with good intention to desire intimacy with God and months later we look back and its more about the GROWING than it is God.
Don’t take my word for it, look at Paul. I could argue that the older Paul got the more he thought he wasn’t growing. The older he got the more he recognized his NEED for Jesus as well as his want. Early in Paul’s ministry he wrote to the Corinthians and said, “I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle.” Toward the middle of his ministry he wrote in Ephesians 3:8, “I am the least of all the saints.” Paul as he got older is getting worse? Weird…. Then at the end of his ministry, while in prison for a second time Paul tells his young student Timothy, “I am the foremost of sinners.” Paul went from the worst apostle (12) to the worst of Christians (a couple thousand at that time), to the worst of all sinners(I think that means everyone!)
So was Paul getting worse? I think Paul was less concerned of his progress and more concerned in Christ exaltation. When that becomes all we consume and rejoice in, we become absurdly weak, AND THAT’S OKAY! There’s so much freedom to know that I am still just as much in need of Christ’s atonement today. Because I know that I’m still covered!
More assured? Close the GAP? I think you see where I’m going here. Scripture beats this concept