Last week we discussed mourning over our sins. One of the good things about mourning over our sins is that the sadness does not last forever. God wants you to experience His forgiveness and peace. We do not have to live our lives in shame. Often, we force ourselves to live in shame or try to skip to the forgiveness and peace without confessing our sins. Neither of these options are healthy. I agree with Richard Foster in his book Celebration of Discipline.
“God brings about the transformation of our lives through the [Spiritual] Disciples, and we will not know genuine joy until there is a transforming work within us. Many people try to come into joy far too soon. Often we try to pump up people with joy when in reality nothing has happened in their lives. God has not broken into the routine experiences of their daily existence” (page 193).
In other words, if we want to experience God’s joy, we must let Him work within us. We will not experience God within our routine daily experiences if we cannot abide in Him through the Spiritual disciplines. We must obey Christ’s commands as Jesus said in John 15:10-11:
“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
Sometimes, we have to go through the hard things like confession or fasting to get a better understanding of the presence of God. I naturally avoid difficult things. I want everything in my life to be easy. I don’t want to go through pain and torment to do much of anything.
However, as I have repeatedly been saying to myself easier is not better. Easier isn’t better when it comes to exercise (or not exercising). Easier isn’t better when it comes to studying for a test. And easier is not better when it comes to following Christ.
Often obeying Christ is difficult. Trusting Christ is difficult. Christ has promised that the world will hate us and we will experience persecution. This does not sound like anything easy.
Simply being in the presence of the Lord Almighty is worth all the difficulties. Moses whose faced glowed after his experiences with God would agree. The disciples who witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus would agree. All of these people would tell you not to strive for joy, rather strive for Jesus. The blessing of the Lord will follow.
How are you going to strive for Christ this week?