Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Wrestling with God

Jacob actually wrestled with God for an entire night...

Now you know God was going easy on him, but nonetheless, he grappled with God and God blessed him.

I think there is a good analogy for the Christian life in there.
We are to struggle... Not against God, but along with Him. God is not struggling, but we have to struggle to be who He wants us to be, which is especially difficult given who we are. And in our grappling with Him through the means of grace, we are able to draw strength from Him, and He blesses us.

Believing in the gospel is a wrestling match. It is not a struggle to believe it, but to believe in it is the hardest thing for a human to do. Believing in something changes you, and keeps you changed. That can only happen for us if God Himself steps in the ring with us, takes our heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh that not only brings us to life for the very first time, but gives us the strength to wrestle with what He wants for us for our whole lives, our eternity.

There needs to be a struggle in our lives. A man I know is always taking 'heat' (in fun) from the guys at school for things he likes to say, his own little catch phrases. One of them is 'wrestling with the gospel'. When we have meetings and tell him how much trouble we are having trying to have a devotional life amidst seminary studies, he always encourages us that we are still struggling with the gospel. And he is right. Most things in this life will include some kind of struggle for the Christian. Not because of persecution, though that may be the case, but because we have to do something that no one else has to do when interacting with the world. We have to obey Christ. We have to know His word and obey it. This is a struggle, not because we hate it, but because we love it and love Him, but we are sinful creatures who cannot do anything good in the site of God except in light of our union with Christ. We still have a sinful nature inside of us and so when we want to do the right thing, as opposed to the wrong things, when dealing with the world, right there in that desire against the norm, is the struggle of the gospel.

The Gospel is that Jesus Christ is Lord, and so we must struggle to obey our Lord while he is away from us in person. It is possible because He is near to us in heart through the Holy Spirit.
Be encouraged. You don't have to live like the world does. Drugs, excessive alcohol, shacking up with your girlfriend (and I don't mean just living together), thievery... the list goes on and on... these are things that in Christ you have to power to overcome, and not just the sins of the hands but the sins of the heart... the anger, despair, anxiety... again, a long long list. Struggle with the gospel, know what Christ wants from you and struggle to do it. If there is no struggle, there is no life. You're still dead in your sins. Die to them and live to Christ!

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