C. S. Lewis wrote a book called Mere Christianity which has become a contemporary classic of the Christian faith. In it, he asks what the fundamental beliefs are of all who hold the Christian faith. As I was turning this title over in my mind one day, I asked a similar question about how to live out our faith in Christ. I asked myself what the “mere practicality” of walking with Christ is. What does it mean, basically and practically, to walk with Christ?
I recently started asking this question more than ever after experiencing some rather momentous changes in my personal life. On May 5th of this year, I married the woman of my dreams. After years of praying and trusting in the Lord for that special someone, the Lord (finally!) answered my prayers as I exchanged vows with the woman who has come to mean so much to me.
In becoming both a new husband as well as a new step-father, I have sought more than ever the power and promises of Christ for both me and my new family. How do we “get down to brass tacks” with respect to growing in Christ? The answer to this question has many sides to it, but I will focus on just one: deciding to follow and trust God’s will always. We’ll consider this point from both a scriptural vantage point as well as a personal and practical one.
From a biblical vantage point, God’s will encompasses every area of our lives, including our relationships, our professional life and most importantly, our eternal destiny. Discovering His will is the most important thing we can ever do. There is no greater goal which we can achieve than to know God personally and know His good and perfect will for us.
The apostle Paul, for example, wrote to the believers in Ephesus that because times could become so evil, they should, “…not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (Eph. 5:17, NIV). Jesus told a religious leader, who at that time had not yet experienced God’s forgiveness of his sins, that he should be “born anew” (John 3:3). Paul told the believers in Rome that God’s will was “good, pleasing, and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).
But what about on a more practical and personal level? If following God’s will is so good for us, both for our time on earth and for eternity to come, why do we hesitate to obey Him? If you are like me, selfishness or fear seem to be two of the most common reasons we do not follow the Lord. Now, selfishness presents a pretty obvious problem for us: God asks us to obey Him on a particular matter but through purely self-centered motives, we choose not to obey Him. In such cases, nothing really hindered us per say, we simply decided that we wanted to do (or not do) what God wanted us to do.
But fear is a different “animal” to wrestle with. Fear gets the better of us, myself included, more often than we might care to admit. Here’s how: first, we find ourselves in a situation that demands a moral or spiritual choice on our parts according to God’s will. But when that choice is put before us, we imagine consequences that might follow if we do things God’s way instead of our own way. We then choose not to do things God’s way, assuming that if we did, things would work out for the worst.
The root problem in cases like this is, at least with me, a failure to trust in God regardless of how I feel at the moment. Doing things God’s way often takes faith, sometimes great faith. It means trusting that God will work out all things for both His kingdom purposes and for our good (see Rom. 8:28). But when fear replaces faith, we choose our own plans rather than His and often miss His very at best for us.
How do respond to fear (or self-centeredness) when it comes to obeying God’s will? First, confess any and all thoughts and decisions you have made contrary to God (see 1 John 1:9). Second, reconnect with God spiritually and emotionally. Do this by spending time in prayer and reading the Bible. Saturating our minds with God’s Word is, in my opinion, one of the strongest antidotes to fearful or selfish thinking. Finally, ask the Lord to strengthen you with His Spirit so that you may overcome anything that is contrary to His will for you, including personal sin (see Rom. 8:11-13). God’s will is both practical and possible. Faith on our part puts us in the place of experiencing His best for us. Enjoy His grace and follow Him faithfully!