So as I have been talking about being free to strive, I have run into a bit of resistance, which was, to say the least, expected.
I understand the resistance, the desire to let grace do every single thing for us. I understand it well, and therefore, I do not chastise those who chastise me as a legalist when I talk about spiritual disciplines from here on out. The fact is, I know right where they are coming from, because I was there a year ago.
But I insist, because I know through experience now, that spiritual disciplines are not legalism in and of themselves. There is the danger of course that ANYTHING and EVERYTHING can become a “law” to us, in which we make the effort the goal, rather than simply following this basic desire to know and love God.
That’s right, a spiritual discipline allows us to pursue the means God has placed within our reaches to know Him, and He has also placed within our hearts a desire to pursue knowing Him. Are we to wait until He does the pursuing for us? No, there’s a better way, and we are free to do it.
So let’s talk about freedom. We are free to do all manner of things. We are free to do whatever we want, including running the other way, away from God, although in His Kingdom, there is no place we can go where He is not. We fool ourselves when we think He isn’t present, because He is always present. But let’s take that idea further.
If He is always present, wouldn’t it follow that He is always knowable? And if He is always knowable, how could it be legalism if we took a step to actually know Him more? If He is always knowable, when we walk in a certain way to get to know Him, I would have to say that legalism isn’t a concern. After all, He has given us so many things to come to know Him by, if “doing” something to know Him better was legalism, then nearly everything we do in this world would be legalism. In fact, to be not “legalistic” under those circumstances would only be possible were we dead, or in a vegetative state.
Yet we are warned to stay away from legalism time after time from people who are truly concerned for our spiritual welfare, I have no doubt. But I have news for any who feel the urge to warn me, and it is good news. There is now no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Enter a spiritual discipline in that frame of mind, and there will never be any danger from legalism.
We are free. Free to do all manner of things. But spiritual transformation is something we get to take part in. It isn’t our job, it isn’t our duty, but it is our privilege. The only thing stopping us then is our intention. I say, if we want to move forward with this cooperation in our transformation, then lets make the efforts we can. Oops, I said the word “effort”. Shame on me.
Look, you don’t have to do one bleeping thing for the rest of your life, if you don’t want to, if you are in Christ Jesus. You can remain just as you are. It’s your choice. But this learning of our freedom has a sneaky way of opening our hearts to desires we didn’t have before. And once God places that desire, it is a prison for us if we choose not to pursue it. Freedom is an enabler, not a disabler.
A young man I know once asked his Dad this question, “How can I love what I don’t know?” Out of the mouths of babes, huh? If we want to love God, the best way we have available to us is to come to know Him. And aren’t we blessed that we have the freedom to pursue so many different ways, even regularly, even , dare I say it, on a regular schedule? Shhh, don't tell anyone else about this. It's a secret.