Thursday, February 4, 2010

Learning By Doing

You can read all the manuals on prayer and listen to other people pray, but until you begin to pray yourself you will never understand prayer. It's like riding a bicycle or swimming: You learn by doing.

Luis Palau

This is what we are after, isn’t it? We deeply want change. However, we want the real thing. Be entirely honest with yourself, are you the same person you were a year ago? Five years ago? Forty years ago? This might possibly be the greatest danger in being a Christian. I once heard a pastor say this, Trust this Jesus—this all you need to do. Maybe he misspoke, but that was a completely untrue statement. This is what so many people are told when they come to faith and it only gives them permission to continue to be the fallen individuals they are, not growing and not changing into the incredible people they were meant to be. Being in relationship with Jesus goes way beyond just trusting. You probably have never heard of him (I hadn’t either), but the Archbishop of Canterbury (1691-94), John Tillotson spoke it about as direct and truly as it can be said:

It is a great mistake, and of very pernicious consequence to the souls of men, to imagine that the gospel is all promises on God's part, and that our part is only to believe them and to rely upon God for the performance of them, and to be very confident that He will make them good, though we do nothing else but only believe that He will do so.

So really dwell on this question—are you any different than you used to be?

  • Is the anger still there and comes out whenever it wants?
  • What about the inability to overcome the continual depression and joylessness?
  • Or the art you’ve acquired to being committed to absolutely nothing or anyone?
  • Or the perpetual lying and half-truths?
  • Or the endless relationships you’ve had that go about an inch deep?
  • Or wasting your life away with procrastination or laziness?
  • Or the past that always stands between you and where you want to go?
  • Or how you use people?
  • Or how you allow shopping or sex (or anything else other than God) make you feel secure and happy?

We could go on and on with these kinds of examples. This would be a great time to take a moral inventory and really look at your life. Again, being a Christian on one level is about constant change. Are you a sinner? I’ll answer this one for you. Of course you are. Just like me. And this is exactly why God is always at us to become more and more who He desires us to be—more whole today, sinning less tomorrow, and a becoming a little bit like Jesus. Let’s make no bones about it, this is no simple or easy task, but this is what we must be after—we need to everyday become different people than who we were from the previous day.

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