Go read Philippians 3:12-14.
<> How are you straining toward what is ahead in your walk with God??
Straining vs. Complacency
Straining is a funny word to describe how we are following Jesus, because it just sounds like it would take so much effort. We don’t like that kind of religion. We like lazy religion – religion where we can claim to believe a certain set of doctrines and then sit down and do nothing about or because of them – religion where God isn’t all that interested in the daily actions of our lives – religion where progress and spiritual growth are optional – religion where we twist our theology to agree with and support the apathetic nature of our faith.
To this lazy, evil and complacent heart, Jesus whispers, “Come follow me.” He bids that we draw near to Him, that we seek Him – that we leave our bondage to sin behind in the pursuit of Him. But honestly, we don’t really want to. Why? Because it’s hard. Forgetting the past, straining toward what is ahead, pressing on toward the goal, and ultimately following Jesus with our lives is HARD. He daily calls us to die to ourselves, and to lay down our selfish desires. He daily calls us to serve our friends and our enemies. He calls us to walk humbly in the honest acceptance that He is God and that we are not, and that we are in desperate need of Him. He regularly shows us that we are up a creek without Him.
So, if we are not careful we will make the worst possible trade – we forfeit straining after knowing Him for religion and morality that makes us feel just godly enough to appease Him.
<> Are you lazy and apathetic in your following after Christ?
<> Have you traded knowing the real living Jesus for empty religion?
The Hardness of Straining
Go read Hebrews 12:1-12
<> According to vs. 2, what is ahead that we are looking towards?
<> According to vs. 7-12, what does God do to the children He loves?
Way to often we are ok with everything being easy in our lives. A complacent heart wants everything to be easy. The heart that is straining toward Jesus is ok with a little bit of hardship. Why? Because there is no straining without hardship. Hardship is a sign that God is disciplining you. Discipline is proof of His love. When you understand His goals and His love and His kingdom and the fact that everything is ultimately about His glory, your start to see that your hardship is part of His design for your life. Hardship helps us learn that life is not all about us and it also teaches us to seek Him desperately for our daily help. He loves both of those things.
Simply put: truly following Jesus is a beast of an uphill battle (the Scriptures call it a narrow path), but for those who strain ahead, Jesus is the reward and He is the sustainer along the way. If intimacy with Christ is your goal, then life will be hard, but He will be with you and He is better than the hardness of life.
<> How and where do you need to start straining after Christ?