What does it mean to “follow after Christ”? I have been pondering this question as I am counseling someone who is wondering if their faith is genuine. Genuine struggle is a part of our faith journey, a part of our sanctification process.
I have a great fear for my more perfectionistic brothers and sisters in Christ. It seems so many of them truly struggle with believing that it is all about Him and not about them. They read the Scriptures and see only the commands and little of the grace!
These folks attempt to perform the right actions and are so deeply affected when they fail or find that at this time in their life they simply cannot do what they feel (believe) that God is asking them to do. This becomes their paramount goal in each day- “to do.”
Joy is instantly sucked out of live in both the spiritual and physical sense. The days become one perceived failure after the next and they find depression quickly sets in as they come to the point where they are not even sure they believe what they thought they believed.
My heart is so heavy and burdened for such as these. My desire is to point them back to the cross, but the cross no longer represents freedom and victory to them; it represents failure on their part. It becomes one more thing they cannot understand or make sense of.
Those who suffer in this manner must take both practical and spiritual steps for renewal of body and soul. Physically, a routine must be established that is completed regardless of how they feel. In a vast majority of cases feelings have become an idol and are what rules the persons life. Feelings are to be ruled over by the thoughts, beliefs, and desires of the body not the other way around. Some form of physical activity must be initiated and maintained, a sleep schedule put in place and proper eating habits. God designed the body to function in a specific manner and that aspect of a person must be taken into account.
Spiritually they must, must preach truth to themselves. Consistent reminders of what our unchangeable God says in His own inspired Word about who we are in Christ and our position, and about our never ending need for the gospel are vitally important. These desperate hours are designed to bring them back to that great equalizer- the foot of the cross.
Yes, a part of our following Christ is in the doing of things. We are to demonstrate the Christ-life within us through the lives we live and how we impact those around us but that is not the focal point of being a Christ follower. Performing all things Christian can become a god, and an idol of the heart and effectively steal away our love for the Lord and our joy.
Beloved, set aside your personal expectations and rules of performance and return to your first love- Jesus Christ. I do think it is alright to simply rest in Him and allow His grace and love and mercy and acceptance to wash over you and renew your heart and mind. God is in charge of this process in your life, I promise (because HE promises) that you won’t miss a thing. Return to the basics of your relationship with Him and find your purpose there.
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