Monday, May 23, 2016

Practice Makes Perfect

Trying to eat healthy can be really frustrating at times. Especially when there's things like Red Robin Burgers, Chicken Chow Mein, Sausage Pizzas, (did I mention Red Robin burgers?) that are constantly around, and quickly available for eating.

For the past year or so, my wife and I have been trying to make some steps to eat healthier which means eating a lot more vegetables, reducing sugars, and eating out significantly less. I think we made a good, wise decision and I'm glad we're doing it. But that definitely isn't to say that it's never hard or aggravating at times.

As I was feeling the frustration of wanting to eat out the other night, I thought about how the Christian's spiritual life in her pursuit of holiness is not all that different. As a friend of mine from seminary said, "Sin feels amazing! If it didn't, nobody would be doing it all the time!" It can be really hard practicing holiness when we live constantly surrounded by every opportunity to be greedy, lustful, consumerist, etc. whether it's from scantily dressed women on TV, all the technology that provides instant gratification and self-glorification, shopping malls that tell me I'll look so much smarter, cooler, if I wear their's kind of everywhere, and that can be difficult.

But the good news is it's not hopeless.

Over the past several months not only have my food cravings changed, but my body can handle a shorter and shorter list of things. I no longer crave Taco Bell the way I did in high school, nor am I tempted by late night diner food. The times I have deviated to eat fast-food or whatever, my body has immediately reacted to it in such a way that recognizes that this stuff is garbage, and we don't want it. My tastes are different and my body reacts viscerally now to things I shouldn't consume. I'm glad for that.

Over time, I think something similar happens to our inner spiritual life as Christians as well. We remove ourselves of things that are harmful to our spiritual bodies, and begin to replace them with good healthy things that give us life. Paul talks about this in Romans 8: "The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life" As we
pursue the kingdom of God and God's righteousness, live in fellowship with mature believers, commune with the Spirit, meditate on Scripture and ingest it into our lives, we begin to start developing different tastes and desires. Our habits and practices change. What we love become closer and closer to what God loves, and what we hate becomes closer to what God hates.We begin to detest vices like arrogance and greed and find pleasure in serving one another in love or courageously standing up for truth.

But it takes time, and hard work, and intentionality. Just like you don't really have to go out of your way to eat unhealthily, you don't have to go out of your way to try to sin. It's our default setting so to speak. Thank God for Jesus and his work on the cross that liberates us from the grip sin had on us, and the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower us to live righteously and sanctify our hearts. The call of Jesus for his people to be perfect just as our Father is perfect resounds to this today. It's not easy, but it's good for us and it takes practice.

Faith Colloquium : A Blog about Theology, Philosophy, Church, and Culture

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