Most of the Christians I meet are tired. They don’t have the passion for God they once had, and they feel guilty about it. The sequence is always the same: countless seasons of (1) renewed expectation, (2) energetic pursuit, (3) encroaching disappointment, and finally, (4) exhaustion.
They have tried serving the Lord, seeking a fuller Christian experience through ministry involvement. Exhausted, they pull back for a season and try Bible knowledge instead. They undertake studies of Scripture, quiet time schedules, and books about spiritual disciplines. Again, that lasts for a time — and some good certainly comes from it — yet they feel like the joy they were promised at conversion is still eluding them somehow.
Other seasons of worthy pursuits come and go: worship, helping the poor, evangelism, prayer, etc. In all of this, there is a sincere intent to live as God desires. But these brief periods of success are followed by failure, frustration, and exhaustion. Sound familiar?
The apostle Paul described something very similar in his own life: a desire to do good, but an inability to get it done. He wrote, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15). Then he indicated why: the “sin that dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (7:17-18).
What Paul was describing is the exhausting Christian life. The victorious Christian life was eluding him, and he admitted it. Paul acknowledged that his Christian life was not working for him. In his case, it was a temporary problem, but sadly, for many followers of Jesus, it’s all they ever experience. I know, because for many years this is the Christian life that I lived. Precept without power. Rules without resources. Laws without life. Initially exhausting and ultimately excruciating, it is the powerless Christian life. It causes many people to slip into what Paul called the “carnal minded life” or the “fleshly Christian life” (see Romans 8:1-10). Forgiven — without a doubt. But failing and falling into a lukewarm mediocrity, believers begin to view the dynamic, Spirit-filled, victorious Christian life that God promised like a carrot on the end of a long stick.
This powerless kind of living is a knife in the heart of Jesus Christ, who not only died for our forgiveness but also rose again that He might live His life through us. Payment for sin is complete; that is a past accomplishment. Someday Christ will rule the earth; that is a future promise. But what about today? Today Christ lives to bring His victorious power to bear upon your character. He wants to live His life through you.
I’m afraid that sometimes the Lord has looked at my Christian experience and thought, “This is it? This is why I rose from the dead? This is the degree to which you are going to draw upon My resurrection power? This is the degree to which you’re going to let Me live My life through you? This is as good as it gets?” It doesn’t have to be that way.
I challenge you right in this moment to come to the turning point that I had to come to: a once-and-for-all decision to be done with the exhausting Christian life! Allow Jesus to live His life through you. That’s what Christian living is all about.
Reprinted by permission of Walk in the Word, Copyright 2002, all rights reserved.