Friday, February 20, 2009

The process or the Prize

I had a great conversation that led to a good reminder for me. It was a good reminder because I'm so tempted as a self-righteous reward seeker to place my satisfaction and delight in the completion of an exercise over my satisfaction and delight in the Person of Christ. It is baffling how easily we are deceived, once we've tasted and seemingly almost tangibly experienced His Personhood, to return to a merit-based system of 'gaining' His approval, as if we can gain anything by our efforts.
Simply put...programs fail if they lead you to an achievement rather than a person. 40 days of...anything... may make you 'feel' like you have more direction, but if you do not truly savor Christ more with a voracious appetite as a result, it is fleeting and ultimately worthless. Fasting from food may make you feel like you've achieved discipline, but if it did not fiercely channel your appetite toward a hunger for Christ, you're still hungry for more. Are you catching my drift? These things are not bad in and of themselves. In fact, they can be holy and wonderful. But if our disciplines (even if started with pure motives) subtly get turned toward the 'goal' and 'accomplishing,' our god becomes our achievement, and our pleasure is our own strength.

Think with me. If I set out to fast for 3 days, and the first day my fellowship with the Almighty Christ is consuming, sweet, and soul-stirring...what happens if the 2nd day is a floundering desert, so I eat the third day because my focus just won't return...have I failed? If my goal is completion, and my god is my effort--yes, I have failed, and I will feel like a failure. If my goal is Christ, I have much delight that He graced me with His presence that first day...He has succeeded in me.

I admit, I would struggle feeling like a failure, because my battle is with self-righteousness.

Oh, that our goal and aim would be Christ and Christ alone, the gift from the Father. I find Him richly dwelling in His Word and in His Church, the Saints. When I delight in the process more than the Prize, I rob myself.

May you find Him dwelling richly in His Word and in those saints you fellowship with.


  1. Much like what Paul state in Hebrews 12:1-2 "...let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes on Jesus,..." It is interesting that Paul's preclusion entails ridding ourselves first of burdens (re: addictions) and sins before running the race, which only makes sense if we are to keep our eyes on Jesus. Running the race with burdens and sins will be a futile endeavor, but this brings up another question; what burdens and sins are Paul speaking of? If he's speaking in generalities, then how do we know if we are burdened and sinful, and how do we know what burdens and sins are? I think this if very important. If we are to run the race with our eyes upon Jesus, we must be free from burdens and sins. What are we talking of here?

  2. Some more thoughts:
    I think the fact that 'rid ourselves' precedes 'running the race' here is not necessarily a mandate in the order of how thing ought to happen, but a mandate that our efforts should be towards both simultaneously as we seek to grow in Christ. If this was taken literally and stictly in the ORDER sense, I personally would be paralyzed constantly in the "first step" of ridding myself of EVERY burden and sin. Wow! That's a big first step. If your concept of sin is all-inclusive (not just external actions), that means my sinful motives of selfishness, my vengeful heart of anger/murder, my internal arrogance of self-righteousness...these all must be put to death before running? I would never get out of the blocks! I believe, combined with the whole of Scripture, that life in Christ is a simultaneous 'putting to death' of the flesh and the 'putting on' of Christ.
    I can't really rid myself of sin if I'm not running towards Jesus and seeing more of His goodness.

  3. I agree, one can never rid themselves completely of sin permanently. It's a daily battle with Satan to overcome our weaknesses, and I agree with your assessment that overcoming sin with Christ in sight is our only hope, but I'm afraid many Christians fall into the trap of ignoring their "covered up" sins because they feel it is futile to try to overcome them. They have the attitude that it's OK to carry their sinful nature because God overlooks their sinfulness. I don't see this. I think it's imperative that we try our best to overcome our sinfulness. It's not an impossible task. "Nothing unclean shall enter heaven."