As believers we often have the wrong idea when it comes to Scripture, and living out Scripture. Far too often, Scripture is seen as a burden rather than the blessing it’s supposed to be. One of the reasons Scripture often becomes a burden is because it’s difficult to live out. When I hear someone say, “Being a Christian is easy…” I always wonder of they’ve ever actually read Scripture. Let’s just be real honest, some of the stuff Scripture says we are to do, or not do is difficult.
“but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NKJV)
Holiness isn’t just an appearance of purity. Holiness is a way down deep in the heart sort of purity. Holiness is purity in devotion, actions, words, thoughts, reactions, values, motivations, and priorities. That’s pretty tough right? Appearing pure to the masses is one thing, but to truly be pure way down deep in our hearts, that’s something entirely different.
“But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” Matthew 5:39 (NKJV)
How about that? The slap in Jesus’ day wasn’t as much about a physical assault as it was about insulting someone. When you slapped someone you were letting them know that you felt they were inferior to you. Probably the closest equivalent in our culture is to spit in someone’s face. Pretty insulting and infuriating right? How would you respond to something like that? Jesus says that’s not the right way.
“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23 (NKJV)
Do you find it easy to deny yourself? Do you find it easy to die to yourself, and your will so that you can fully follow Jesus’ will? This is what it means to take up our cross and follow Jesus. As with holiness, this isn’t merely outward. This affects my devotion, actions, words, thoughts, reactions, values, motivations, and priorities. That’s pretty tough right? We aren’t merely to do these things once, but daily.
“And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15 (NKJV)
Do you realize that the responsibility to share the Gospel with your friends, coworkers, family members, neighbors, and everyone in your sphere of influence is yours? That’s right. Each and every believer has a God given responsibility to share the Gospel with others with the goal of seeing them brought to faith in Christ. Do you find that easy?
Not only are these things difficult, they are also unnatural. What I mean by unnatural is that doing these things doesn’t come naturally to most of us.
Do you more naturally gravitate toward holiness or sin?
Do you more naturally overlook insults or do you get even?
Do you more naturally gravitate toward self-denial or selfishness?
Do you more naturally gravitate toward doing Jesus will or doing your will?
Do you more naturally gravitate toward talking about Jesus and people’s need for Jesus or the weather?
Because these things, and so many others, are difficult, and not natural to the way we generally live, they become a source of frustration, discouragement, and an enormous burden. As believers, we know that these things should make up the way that we live our lives.
We are supposed to be holy.
We are supposed to turn the other cheek.
We are supposed to deny ourselves.
We are supposed to tell others about Jesus.
But the fact that we struggle with doing these things piles guilt upon frustration and at this point Scripture becomes a burden rather than a blessing.
What we end up concluding from all of this is, “I can’t.” I can’t do what Jesus said to do. I can’t live the way Jesus said to live. I can’t do it. When we embrace this mindset, we resign ourselves to defeat. We’re gonna fail and that’s just the way that it is. This begins to alter our view of Scripture. We begin to see Scripture as sort of a “pie in the sky” ideal of the way people ought to live but not the reality of the way that we can live. What if this wasn’t the way it was supposed to be?
What if Scripture was supposed to be a blessing instead of a burden?
What if Scripture was supposed to bring us joy and not discourage us?
What if Scripture wasn’t supposed to be the “pie in the sky” ideal, but the reality of the way we were supposed to live?
What if we could do what Jesus said we should do?
What if we could live the way Jesus said we should live?
What if instead of saying “I can’t” we started believing “I can”?
If you have learned to live with a defeatist mindset, I have good news. There is more! If you view Scripture as a “pie in the sky” ideal of how believers can live, then I have good news. There is more!
To move from “I can’t” to “I can” requires a fundamental shift in our thinking and our approach to Scripture. That’s what I’m going to write about this week.