So here we are in April!
So here we are in April! The month with the showers that bring May's flowers. It's also the month of Easter and its reminder of the seriousness of sin. The end of Lent and its reminder that Jesus gave all for us. Lent is a time that many Christians give up something they enjoy for a time to remind themselves of both the cost of sin and the sacrifice Jesus made. And that takes a durable persistence.
Most Americans expect everything fast, easy and cheap. And we often treat the Christian life like that. We want it to be like a McDonald’s drive through — drive up to the window, get what you want (probably not what you need!) and take off. I'm sure you've noticed ads that tell us about products that work “instantly”. One said, “Get the gym body without going to the gym.” Sounds good to me, but I’m thinking about getting the Flex Belt that promises get great abs in only a few weeks, just by putting on their magic belt.
If I want to learn a foreign language, be it Farsi, Russian or Chinese, apparently you can learn any language in just 30 days. The ad says, “Each CD has been scientifically sequenced to rapidly lock language material into your brain. Just sit back, relax and let the audio guide you. Once you start listening you’ll be learning in under 5 minutes and be speaking in just 10 days!” What?! I can't just play it while I sleep and get the same result?? What a gyp, I'm looking elsewhere! I suppose if they told you that it would actually take two years of memorizing vocabulary, verb conjugations, and noun declensions, irregular verbs, etc., before you begin to feel comfortable with the language, you wouldn’t enroll in the course.
For many, this is their attitude toward the Christian life. Profession of faith, baptism, some church attendance and I'm good to go for Eternity. I should get a pass on any hardship. But life (and Satan) throws some stumbling blocks in our paths. Tests, if you will, to see if we really mean that we trust in Jesus for our needs & peace. To see just how dedicated we are to a relationship with Christ.
In the New Testament, the Christian life is referred to as a race at least 4 times. But I think most any sport offers a valid comparison. I've been working out more and can speak from experience that one does not walk in with little practice and bench press his weight right away. It takes practice, time, effort, practice, application, maybe some practice. Meeting more success some days, maybe even an injury others. But the point is to persist. And we simply do not know the voice of God without reading what He's had to say and conversing with Him.
So it's essential to remember that the Christian life is not a sprint, it is a marathon. It is not a short dash, but a distance race. And only those who are prepared to go the distance are going to last to the end and make it to the finish. You can’t expect to win unless you have trained for it over a long period of time. It means yes, practice every day — when you feel like it and when you don’t. And some days are just going to be less (or more) successful than others. Lent and Easter are timely reminders that God is with us still. The ultimate price has been paid for our salvation from sin & death and His Holy Spirit stands ready to strengthen us. Pastor Geoff “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27