To do or not to do…

Posted: July 30, 2012 in Evangelism, Leadership, Life, Me and God, Me and people, The Bible, The Church

Do you pray even when you don’t feel like? Will God hear you?
Do you read the Bible even if you are tired? Will God still speak to you?
Do you do something good -even against your desires? or, do you wait until you want to?

A friend of mine suggested that saying “I have to pray more” or “I have to read my Bible” were signs of legalism and that God didn’t want me to “have to”. He further stated that we, as Christians, are not under the law but we live by faith through Grace and therefore, we were to do things out of heartfelt desire, to do things not because we “have to” but because we “want to”, because we feel like doing them. I would call this the “Sprite Christianity”: “Obey your thirst!”

…And, he may have a point. Think about it. Do you want your kids to talk to you and spend time with you and listen to you because they “have to”? or because they “want to”?.  Some even make the case that part of Paul’s point in writing to the church in Galatia was to remind them they were saved by grace and not by obeying the acts, duties and traditions of the Judaic laws.

Nevertheless, you don’t have to read too long in the Bible to come across verses like Romans 1:5; James 1:21-36; James 2:14-26 or Matthew 7:21 where very clearly and undoubtedly we are told to do certain things; to obey, which by definition, is to “comply with a command, direction, or request” –whether you like it or not. What then?

  • Do I read my Bible only when I want to?
  • Do I pray only when I am not tired, have extra time and just feel like?
  • Do I give only when I have a supernatural desire to get rid of some extra dollars?
  • Do I volunteer at church doing only those things I enjoy doing the most?

I don’t think so. I may be showing my weak nature more than I would want to admit, but, honestly, I don’t always want to read or pray or give or volunteer… and if I did only when I truly wanted to, I wonder if I would do those things at all. Is there something wrong with me? Before you label me, let me submit to your consideration that we may be mixing apples and oranges here. Why? Because maybe we mistakenly tend to qualify salvation (our position before God) based on actions.

Our Position.
As humans, especially in a capitalist society,  we have the tendency to ‘do to earn’, ‘work to deserve’. Oftentimes people think that you have to ‘do’ things in order to earn your position with God. Go to church, read the Bible, pray such amount of time per day, give money to the church, do voluntary work, help the poor, listen to only Christian music, don’t say bad words, don’t lie, don’t cheat, and the list goes on and on. The problem is, those things don’t define our relationship with God. I love my kids no matter what. They are “positionally” my children, bear my last name and no matter how bad they turn, they will always be my children and hears of my kingdom, last name and wealth (ie: my old pick up truck) –I will love them and they are my children in spite of their actions. In the same way, once we have been adopted into God’s family by believing, repenting and accepting Christ lordship in our lives, our position before God -the way He sees us, is defined not by our actions but by what Jesus did on our behalf. Therefore, it is true that “Nothing we do can separate us from the love of God” (Rom 8:38-39) , and “we are saved by faith, not by works” (Eph 2:8-9). This is liberating!! I don’t have to pray and read the Bible and give and volunteer every day to be a Christian! [Please, do not stop reading…]

Our Actions.
There are some things that my kids desire just because is what they have been exposed to. They talk about being a missionary or telling people about Jesus because is the environment they are growing in, it is in their blood. Likewise, I believe that as a Christian knows and understands that new identity, that new spiritual reality as a Christian, a process of transformation happens. There are some good things that I didn’t want to do before, that now I feel a desire to do. In the same way, there are negative things that before Idid and enjoyed, but now, even if I do them, I can’t enjoy them as much. The more we abide and hang you and stick to God, the more good things automatically you will do” (John 15:4-5), the more you enjoy spending time with God, the more your desires will change into His desires (Psalm 37:4)

Painfully simply however, there are also those things we ought to do. My kids are my kids and nothing will change that fact. Because of that, they understand that there are certain expectations attached to being a Valenzuela. Helping with home chores, respecting their mom, protecting each other and not using potty talk (for sure a tough one for boys nature). These expected behaviors and obedience to my rules can protect them, help them to develop in the best possible way and, of course, “relationally”, they make me happy dad. In the same manner, when they disobey or act out, I still love them, but I may feel disappointed, upset or just sad about their choices and the consequences they can face.

In the same way as Christians there are things we must do out of obedience, because it makes our dad happy, because after all He has done for us, it is the least we can do; because it is beneficial, because it protects us or just because it’s the right thing to do. The big difference is that we don’t do those things to attain or maintain our position –because that has been already done by Christ, we do them because we understand what He did and how much gratitude we owe to Him. As Paul wrote to the Romans: “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I beg you to give your lives to God because of all he has done for you” . In conclusion, when it comes to praying, reading and spending time with God, giving and volunteering at church, maybe sometimes we need to be “Nike Christians”….and “just do it!”

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