Thursday, January 1, 2015

Life Gets in the Way

     Recently, I was in a conversation with a pastor friend about our general lack of commitment of the things of God. Sure, we start out with the best of intentions but somewhere along the way our enthusiasm fades and our good intentions, like so many unfinished projects, amount to nothing. He said, “It’s like evangelism conferences. When you come back from an evangelism conference you are full of energy and great ideas and are ready to save the world, but before long, life gets in the way and nothing ever comes of it.” Sadly, I knew exactly what he was talking about when he said “life gets in the way.” It happens to me all the time.

     This week I was talking with someone about Sunday School material and wondering if new material would help motivate people to spend more time in God’s Word during the week. She confessed that she didn’t spend as much time in God’s Word during the week as she should and she felt guilty about it. “I really intend to spend time with my Bible, but things happen during the week and life gets in the way.” There it is again – life; and it always seems to be getting in the way.

     This presents us with a real dilemma. Jesus says that He is “the way, the truth and the life.” Does this mean that the life is preventing us from following the way? Is the Messiah blocking the narrow path that leads to righteousness? Absolutely not! What then do we mean when we say “life gets in the way?”

     The problem is in our differing definitions of life. When Jesus says that He is the life, He is referring to the fact that we can only have eternal life through Him. He is drawing attention to the reality that He is the source of life. Without Him, there is no life. He is the life in the truest definition of the word. That is, however not how we most often use the word. When we talk about life in this context we’re not talking about life in the universal sense, we’re usually talking about our life. We are talking about the activities, tasks, decisions and priorities that occupy our time and thoughts. Life, for many of us is filled with those activities and obligations we feel are necessary to achieve some desired effect. That effect may be self centered or focused on service to another. Either way, the activities that fill our days and therefore our lives are activities we choose.

     Rather than blaming life for getting in the way, let’s be honest. The choices we make each day are what really prevent us from having a deeper, stronger relationship with Christ. Our priorities are what prevent us from spending time alone with Him, immersed in His word. That same pastor friend also once told me that it was his experience that “people do exactly what they want to do.” The problem is that we want too much and often our wants are contradictory. In such cases the stronger want wins. We want to gather with other believers to worship Christ, but we also want to stay in bed on Sunday morning. We want to tell others about Christ, but we also want to avoid potential embarrassment. We want to serve God whole heartedly, but we also want that raise and promotion at work. 

Of course, as long as we can blame life for getting in the way we can still think of ourselves as victims who are at the mercy of the unseen forces pulling us away from God. If the real problem is our choices then we become coconspirators in our own spiritual apathy. Remember, in the end it isn’t life that gets in the way – it’s just us.

In His Service,