Sunday, June 12, 2016

Power to row against the current

Playing with my boys at the beach when they were little was a lot of noisy fun. We’d get so into the diving and swimming and splashing, that we wouldn’t notice how far down the shore the currents had pushed us. We thought we were staying in the same place, but we were gradually drifting. We’d have to get out onto the sand and walk back to where we’d begun to start playing again, continually keeping track of where the sea was carrying us. In the same way, unanchored boats drift in powerful currents, untrained swimmers can drown at sea, and lives that aren’t spiritually powered by the Holy Spirit can be swallowed up by the currents of this world.

Too many Christians complain that God requires too much, as if He owed them an easier life. As if it wasn’t enough for Him to come to this world as a man and pay the most painful price for the sins of the entire world so that we could be set free and enter heaven. God’s very small requirement of obedience and daily self-denial of our flesh is seen by many as unfair. “Why does God keep wanting me to fight?” is the question I get all the time.

But here’s what most of these complainers don’t understand. When we’re baptized in His Spirit, He enables us to fight, to swim, to keep rowing against the current, and even gives us joy in the process. “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness...” 2 Peter 1:3. He’s the one who gives us the power! We don’t have to push against the current all on our own.  

But resisting the current doesn’t happen by magic. Though we begin to push with our own will, it’s the Holy Spirit that gives us supernatural power to do what our weak flesh could never do on it’s own.  And though a miracle is sparked by our effort, we have no right to take credit for it, because all we did was refuse to be swept away by the world. The miracle was all God, and even the strength we had to fight, came from Him.

Funny thing how Christians can ask God to baptize them in His Spirit, and then be unwilling to resist the currents of the world. They may do all the outward things that look impressive to their pastor or church friends, but because they don’t resist temptation or pride or selfish ambition, the baptism never happens. Being baptized in God’s Spirit doesn’t mean a life of floating on clouds and automatic godliness. It means being able to plunge into the nitty-gritty of life with the power to resist and overcome, to see miracles, to spot demonic attacks and mount an effective counter-attack, and to have a great sense of joy every single day. Yes, your flesh will complain at times that it’s being pushed too much, but you’ll know that your flesh is lying to you. The Spirit will provide an unending supply of strength to live by faith because you won’t be living by rules and restrictions, but in a deep and loving relationship with Him.

If you as a parent can find the love to constantly fight to protect your children from sickness, hunger, loneliness, rejection and everything else a parent sacrifices for, then you understand how worthwhile that fight can be for your flesh and blood who you intimately and dearly love. An emotionally healthy parent doesn’t sacrifice because rules force them to, they sacrifice from the depths of their hearts for their precious children. This is the kind of relationship that motivates us to fight to please our Lord Jesus. We keep adding to our faith, adding to our character and adding to our knowledge of Him because we love Him as our own flesh and blood. He gave His flesh and blood for us, so the little we owe Him is nothing compared to what He gives us.

So don’t stop seeking, don’t stop pushing forward, don’t stop rowing against the current – He wants to empower you, and He is worth every effort.

For this reason make every effort to add virtue to your faith; and to your virtue, knowledge; and to your knowledge, self-control; and to your self-control, patient endurance; and to your patient endurance, godliness; and to your godliness, brotherly kindness; and to your brotherly kindness, love. For if these things reside in you and abound, they ensure that you will neither be useless nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But the one who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted because he has forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.  2 Peter 1:5-9, MEV

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