Sometimes you do the right thing because you’re tired, not because you love doing the right thing.
We obey God because we’re scared not to. There’s no real love for Him; just a fear of everything that could go wrong.
At times I imagine quitting this whole God-thing and going to Vegas, sleeping with hookers, ingesting every drug known to man, and crashing all the parties until I die from it. Maybe that’s too honest, but that’s my wicked heart. It wants evil because evil looks delicious.
Except I don’t do those things. Because of the law. Or I’m scared what people will say. Or the consequences of hookers and drugs and waking up with no teeth.
Very rarely do I think, I can’t do that because I love God, and I have better. Again, my wicked heart.
Maybe we’re not really growing here, but just getting too old to sin. Maybe it’s just a resignation to comfortable, boring modesty.
I am naturally a coward and I forget: God gave me a new nature. He gave me a God-sized heart that can hate evil and ferociously love Him. A Spirit of love, power, and self-discipline. A Spirit that says no to fear, which I must choose. I just forget.
You’re either growing up or just getting old.
When Daniel is in his 80s and is told by law he can’t pray anymore, he hobbles up to the top floor of his house and opens a window and prays at the top of his lungs. This is punishable by death. By lions.
The king has to follow this law he unwittingly signed, but he does make every effort to save his buddy Daniel. Of course, if the king goes back on his word then he looks bad. Even though he’s the king and can do whatever he wants: but it’s just so embarrassing.
Later Daniel is thrown in the lion’s den. The king tells him (unhelpfully), “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” I like the Message version: “Your God, to whom you are so loyal, is going to get you out of this.” My version: Good luck with Aslan, bro.
You got to like this king though. He stays up all night and fasts. All those grapes and goblets and pigs with apples in their mouths: none for me, thanks.
The lions turn out to be cute kitty cats and I imagine Daniel using one for a pillow and the other one licking his toes. Daniel, cat whisperer, home decorator.
Then the king suddenly gets it in him to throw those royal law-twisting jerks into the lion’s pit. Including their whole families, a scene which they never paint on your Sunday school walls. The lions eat them before they even touch the ground. The Bible proves once and for all that cats can fetch if they’re motivated.
Here’s the contrast: Daniel, against certain death, obeys God. He loves God more than his own life. The king, who has power over Daniel’s life and the law and his own court, chooses to save face. He hopes God will settle this whole thing by fasting for a night. He follows God because he’s scared not to.
I don’t want to paint Daniel as the good guy and the king as the bad guy. The king had been indoctrinated by years of cultural conditioning and to go back on that might have erupted in in-house chaos or rebellion. No doubt that the king liked Daniel. But you can see the truth in both their attitudes. One wanted God for God; the other wanted God to be a god.
Daniel was an old man, but not really. I would hope that as I get older, I get even crazier for Christ. Instead of settling, to do the very opposite and become a one-man stampede. To let go of any so-called conditioning, any worldly enslavement, any pop culture bondage. Letting go of dumb earthly stuff, holding onto the eternal. To go wherever He calls me, to do whatever He wants. To really deny myself and lose my life. To run with all my might, pressing faster towards the goal, fighting the good fight until I’m called home.
If the end is that much sooner, I don’t want to care about lions and kings and semantic things. Give me Jesus, all of him. He’s enough.
Lord, wake me up. If I must rest, then only in You. Help me finish this strong.
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.
— Hebrews 10:39
Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
— 2 Timothy 2:22
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
— 2 Corinthians 4:16
Am I making progress? If I am really honest, it seems to me that the question is odd, even a little ridiculous. As I get older and death draws nearer, I don’t seem to be getting better. I get a little more impatient, a little more anxious about having perhaps missed what this life has to offer, a little slower, harder to move, a little more sedentary and set in my ways. Am I making progress? Well, maybe it seems as though I sin less, but that may only be because I’m getting tired! It’s just too hard to keep indulging the lusts of youth. Is that sanctification? I wouldn’t think so! One should not, I expect, mistake encroaching senility for sanctification! But can it be, perhaps, that it is precisely the unconditional gift of grace that helps me to see and admit all that? I hope so. The grace of God should lead us to see the truth about ourselves, and to gain a certain lucidity, a certain humor, a certain down-to-earthness.
— Gerhard Forde
Francis Chan – Founder’s Week, Feb. 8, 2012