Why, seeking the superior? The new name of my blog arises from a new awareness of what the Christian life is made of. The past year has taught me a lot. God has been teaching me of His superior beauty, glory, and love (especially as found in the Cross of Christ)! As a kid, I think I viewed God as a necessary evil; God was the brussel sprouts that your mom forced you to eat because they were, “good for you,” while sin was the chocolate bar that really tasted good, but probably wasn’t as healthy. Of course, relationship with God is spiritually healthy (the definition of spiritual health!), but I’ve come to learn that it is also the chocolate bar to be desired.
Which view of God we have will be revealed by how we view our “Christian walk.” Our “walk” is consisted of many decisions; to sin or not to sin, to spend time in prayer and the Scriptures, or not, to pour our energy and resources into material things or to focus more on ‘storing up treasure in Heaven’ (etc, etc). If we aren’t careful these decisions can turn into a list of rules that we grudgingly muster up the willpower to perform, simply because we view them as “what we ought to do.” The problem is that sanctification becomes our product. Whoever has the strongest will becomes the most Christlike. Paul rebukes this strongly; “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3).
The root of all our sin is a heart issue. I know that sounds trite, but it is actually a deeply rooted theological truth. Consider Jesus’ words in Mark 7:21-23; in this passage, Jesus says that sin comes “from within, out of the heart of man.” In fact, it is possible for a person to live a sanctified-looking life through human effort, and willpower, but, in the end, this person is as far off as the next guy. It is the position of the heart that counts. Even if you can pull off a tidy, Christian looking life, but still not love God, you have failed to keep the “great commandment” on which all the others hang. Earlier in the same chapter Jesus quotes Isaiah 29:13 to demonstrate that worship is the position of the heart, not merely our actions. He says, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”
I have said all that to say this: the true Christian walk is about the affections of our heart—what we love and desire. It’s not merely about mustering up the willpower to do right, but about having our affections renewed so that we will want to do right for the glory of God! It takes faith. It takes believing that God’s pleasures really are better, that his joy really is greater, that his way really is superior (Psalm 16:11). For this reason we can say that we are not only justified by faith, but also sanctified by faith!
Consider Jeremiah 2:13. “For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” This is what happens when we sin; we exchange our glorious God for something inferior—something that “can hold no water.” C. S. Lewis would say we need to stop “fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, [we are] like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.”
Jesus offers us a superior life to that of the world. He offers us superior joy and pleasure. What will you seek? Will you seek the superior promises of God, or will you settle for the inferior life that the world has to offer?
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).