“People do not drift toward holiness.
Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.
We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” Don Carson (For the Love of God)
I looked up “drift” in the thesaurus and one of the meanings was to “coast and glide along without much effort”.
Sometimes we need to drift along and unplug a little. We need to take care though, that we aren’t disconnecting ourselves in unhealthy ways. We tend to distance ourselves from the things we need (family, face to face conversation) and tightly hold on to things that are not healthy. Hardness sets in quickly and sometimes unexpectedly through little openings we think are harmless.
I may wake up with the desire to get in the Word and spend time with Jesus, but I can promise you that thirty seven things will happen before 9am to thwart those plans. Without there being some kind of intention, it just won’t happen. It’s an effort, but it’s driven by grace. Obedience to Jesus requires that we be proactive, but not in a “do it yourself” sense. We pursue while being pursued. We actively surrender to Jesus, always mindful that a mind not intentionally set on Him is a mind given over to the world.
It isn’t that we don’t genuinely desire the best God has for us, but because we haven’t actively pursued it in that “grace-driven” sense, we wander from one thing to another waiting for something to happen. We do our own thing while talking about how God knows best and live in a weird mix of superstition and faith. We disobey in areas we know aren’t as grey as we claim them to be because there’s a whole world out there telling us it’s normal and ok to do so. The purity of delighting in Jesus and His Word have been all but washed away because we have a culture of self-promoting problem solvers who want their way put above God’s ways.
The thing is, God wants to be first, and He requires things of us that aren’t always comfortable, easy, or Instagram-able. He desires our obedience as we walk through a world that will tell us we are being legalistic. He wants our total surrender to His ways while we navigate a culture that says “have it your way.”
We can’t have it our way and God’s way at the same time. The spirit and the flesh will never get along (Galatians 5:17). Author Anne Lamott has a great quote that says “[Our human] will starts off easier, then gets hard. God’s will starts off hard, then gets easier.” When we make the hard decision to obey, there is great reward. If we take the easy way out and compromise, it may be well for awhile but it’s not going to stay that way.
Obedience to scripture isn’t antiquated or legalistic, it’s our anchor that keeps us from getting lost at sea. Reading Gods words isn’t a waste of time or something we do when we’re in trouble, it’s our daily bread (Matthew 6:11). Why do so many Christians not experience this truth?
“I know I should be in the Word, it just feels like another thing to check off the list, and my list is already too long.” Amen to that. That’s legalism. Nobody has time for another chore.
Here’s the rub though: We can’t live our lives anchor-lessly drifting around and expect to weather the storms when they come. We can’t just take what other people say or experience and run with it. Both are crazy dangerous.
I say this in love: surrender. All of it. All of the little areas where we’ve convinced ourselves that it’s “ok” even though we know it isn’t, whatever area it may be. Gossip. Smartphones. Social media. Alcohol. Shopping. Complaining. Anger. This list could go on forever, the point is how do we stop the drifting off to unhealthy places?
This beautiful tension between grace and faith, its a deep, profound thing if you ask me. We are saved by grace through faith. Our faith is a response to Gods unmerited grace. We do play a role, but we must never forget it’s a “grace-driven effort”.
Lord that we would never rely on ourselves to keep from drifting, but on Your grace. May we never rest on our own abilities to pull us through life. Show us there is no freedom apart from your truth and no joy in drifting about aimlessly. Thank you for pursuing us and always responding to our feeble efforts to know You better.