Nobody ever said that being a Christian was easy. Many people accept Christ because they think that God will do everything for them. The problem that they run into is the fact that living life as a Christian is about our relationship with God; it’s not a relationship where God does everything for you. We must work at our walk with Christ. The hard part is that, as humans, we fail to do our part.
I recently sat down at a Starbucks to ponder why being a Christian is so hard. I began to jot down what I felt were many of the reasons.
First, I noted that because we know that our relationship with Christ is something that we have to work at, we purposely distract ourselves with secular things so that we don’t have to work on it. Think about a couple that has been married for a while, but all of a sudden things start to go wrong. It is more than common to see one of the partners indulge themselves in secular things (like drinking and other temporary fixes) so that they don’t have to worry about working on their relationship with their spouse. Or, just as common, the person who allows themselves to be over worked so they don’t have to go home and face a situation that they have to work at in order to keep things alive. The same goes for Christians: we know that our relationship with God is important, and will ultimately decide our fate, but because it is not something that we get without work, we focus our attention on worldly things. I know there are plenty of times where I would rather watch T.V. instead of reading my Bible and getting to know God better. I don’t have to work at watching T.V., but I do have to make an effort in my relationship with Christ.
Another reason why we struggle with our relationships with Christ is that we don’t walk the walk, we talk the walk. There have been plenty of times where I have messed up, and then told myself that next time I will try better. The fact is that there is always a “next time”. I try to talk myself into doing better, instead of taking the time to address the issues in my heart. Think about it, a coach won’t get much out of a player when he tells him to try harder if the player doesn’t know how to fix what he is doing wrong. The coach must help the player understand that what they are doing needs to be fixed so that they may become better.
There are also plenty of times where we give up at working on our relationship with God because something bad happens. Maybe we prayed really hard asking God to provide us with a job that we were looking at, but instead of getting the job, we didn’t even get a call back. Should we give up or should we continue to have faith that God will provide? Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” This verse gives me hope when I feel that God has left me alone to fend for myself. I know that even though things may not be going MY way, they are going HIS way, and God’s way is always best.
Another reason why we tend to fail is because we have a bad definition of wisdom. As a Christian, it is important that we have enough wisdom to determine if something is wrong or right. Many Christian’s definition of wisdom stops there though. A good definition of wisdom is not only having knowledge, but having the discipline to carry out what that knowledge tells us. If I lived my life based on the bad definition of wisdom (that is that wisdom is only knowledge) then when I came to a fork in the road, and I have to decide which way I am going to go, my path will not be set because, even though I may know which way is better, I lack the discipline needed in order to carry out the way which is wisest.
So how do we become wise? We must learn to listen, and to ask questions. Wisdom is freely available to those who will stop talking and start paying attention—to God and His word, to parents, and to wise counselors. Don’t think you can ever become wise? Proverbs says otherwise. Check out these verses: Proverbs 2:1-6; 9:1-10; 10:1,5,8,14,19,23; 11:2; 12:18; 13:10,20; 14:8; 15:7,31; 16:23; 17:24; 18:15; 19:11,20; 20:1; 21:11,20,30; 23:4; 29:3,8,11,15; 30:5-6.
It is my hope that, by listing the things that frequently cause us to stumble, we will be able to strengthen our relationship with Christ.