Peter Kreeft, in his book Christianity for Modern Pagans, offers this perspective. “We can easily imagine, think, contemplate, and be attracted to the idea of giving our whole selves over to God without actually doing it, and think we have done it because we have imagined it.” The Bible says, “Thinking themselves to be wise they become fools.” (Romans 1:22) How is this possible?
Some start their spiritual journey with all kinds of good intentions. But years pass and everything remains the same. No real commitment was made. No progress had been gained. They are not pagans! But nor have they fully joined the ranks of the people of God through heartfelt commitment. Any initial conviction they had about sin and God’s remedy in Jesus became only a passing thought.
Others who accepted Jesus as their Saviour lost the passion to continue. They are like a plant that gives some initial encouraging signs of growth for a time but then withers and dies. The cares of this life; the deceitfulness of riches; and their desire for other things choke out the Word and no fruit is produced. (Mark 4:18-19)
The Apostle Paul lovingly rebuked the Galatian believers who started out fine but then drifted. “O foolish Galatians,” he wrote. “Who has bewitched you? …after beginning in the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?” (Gal. 3:1-3; 5:7)
Following Jesus doesn’t happen by osmosis. Nor does it happen by just wishing! It demands a commitment; a firm determination to follow Jesus regardless of the cost. “Then Jesus said to them: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)
I Corinthians 4:20 tells us that “The Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” Of action. It is possible to think ourselves into a state of believing things are okay – when they’re not! Our mind plays tricks on us. D.A. Carson captures this fantasy when he states: “We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance. We drift toward disobedience and call it freedom. …we cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation. We slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” It’s a state of spiritual delusion. May God help us!
So what is the answer? It’s not more religious fantasizing. It’s a radical turn toward the God of heaven and a commitment to make Jesus the center of our lives. (Rom. 12:1-2) David Livingstone made it and said, “I place no value on anything I possess except in relation to the Kingdom of God.”
“Remember those earlier days after you received the light when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. So don’t throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” (Heb. 10:32, 35, 39)
Be blessed my friend.
The Barnabas Group (Loads of Love)