You feel the peace that passes all understanding.
You fight the war with temptation and you win on a daily basis.
You can pray without ceasing.
You rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
Yes, you think your faith can move mountains…
Don’t all Christians wish they could do some or all of the above, but the sad reality is that most of us fall short on a regular basis.
What do we do? We go to church and put on the false front that we have it all together. We hang with our Christian friends and we keep our troubles to ourselves. It would be too embarrassing to admit how poorly we are doing on the spiritual front. Our prayer life is almost nonexistent. Our study time gets shoved to the end of the day and then it never happens because we are too tired and after all, don’t we deserve to watch “Dancing With the Stars?” I want to serve other people but I am too busy taking care of my own needs and the needs of my immediate family. I want to share my faith with others but at times I ask myself the tough question that has the same answer. What faith do I really have to share? The answer comes back—not much.
The reality of the Christian spiritual life.
What do we do? There are several options.
Search for the special book that will do the trick. There are many books on the market that purport to grow your faith. I have blogged on some of them. I have enjoyed them from time to time. I get a good idea, maybe even a tingle of excitement but it does not last very long. In the daily hustle and bustle of life, the idea goes away over time.
You attend a Christian conference or go on a retreat. You are surrounded by people who “feel the spirit.” You begin to catch fire too. The excitement and enthusiasm is great but you can’t stay at the conference all your life. You go home and get into your normal routine and the spirit begins to diminish.
You have so many questions and feel so confused that you go to your pastor. You expect your pastor to tell you the key to spiritual growth but they can’t. You listen to sermons every Sunday and when there is a Bible study at church you go. But the growth that you seek just does not happen. You long to serve your Lord and Savior but it just does not feel like you are doing that.
At long last you hear about spiritual disciplines. That sounds good. These spiritual practices are supposed to get you somewhere. You grab a copy of Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline and you read about the daily habits of prayer, reading the Bible, attending worship, meeting with other Christians and even fasting. The problem is that word discipline. What happens is you are confronted with the fact that you have none.
You accept mediocrity.
That option is the most common and the saddest. We just give up and live with the fact that our spiritual growth is not happening. We slog through life thinking we should be getting closer to God but we know we aren’t. Everything in life seems to be a distraction away from our spiritual needs. The fact of the matter is that as Christians we have to be in this world but we are not supposed to be of this world. That phrase from John 17 means that the world is supposed to not influence us that much. We should seek to live our lives by God’s standards, not the world’s.
Mediocrity is living a life that is not good. You know you should develop a special ability to do something well, but you are not doing it.
The vast majority of humanity is mired in mediocrity and Christians are not exempt. There are many Christians who act like they believe but they really don’t. Sadly, belief for them is just an act. They are Christians in name only.
As I get to the end of this post, I realize that “the dark side” has captured me this morning. I have written about all that is wrong rather than what is right.
Why? Maybe I have thought too much about “the messy truth of spirituality”.* Maybe the daily news of human behavior has made me negative. Maybe I just have not been “feeling the spirit” much myself lately. I have fears of slipping into mediocrity.
Down deep inside…don’t we all?**
*Chapter 16 Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White Adam Hamilton
**In my next post, I promise to “shine some light.”