I wrote awhile ago about going through this Chip Ingram series on "Spiritual Simplicity." We finished it up with the couple we've been meeting with a week or so ago (which is when I wrote this). The last session focused on Romans chapter 12 and Chip outlined what he believes God established as the "path to life."
He says the will of God is that we would be like Jesus; and we do that by loving God and loving others. From Romans 12 he says we get there by living a life...
- Surrendered to God
- Separate from the world's values
- Sober (accurate) assessment of ourselves
- Serving in love
- Supernaturally responding to evil with good
Before God daily
In community weekly
On mission 24/7
He also pointed out 3 barriers to living this way:
- An unwillingness to go "all in"
- Your willingness to be vulnerable
- Your fear of failure
Personally, I have had my ups and downs with the path, as well as the barriers (certainly they go hand in hand). There have been times when I've been totally surrendered to God, separate from the world's values, able to accurately assess myself, serve, and supernaturally respond to evil. These were also the times I was "all in," willing to be completely vulnerable, and had no fear.
Conversely, it seems lately I have given in way more to the barriers, and therefore the top 5 items are a struggle.
It would be nice if one could say, "Okay, I'm going to get my act together and go about this the right way." Unfortunately - and probably quite contrary to what many people believe - I'm not sure it's something that can just be decided by a mere act of will. In my opinion, all these things boil down to SUBMISSION. Coming before God and admitting I can't do it (on my own), and asking for, relying, on His strength.
This is also linked to whether or not we trust God. It's hard to surrender to someone you don't trust. Like, "I'm not going to submit to God because I'm afraid he will want me to go to Africa and be a missionary." I suppose it's possible that he might, but it's also possible that he wants you to fulfill your wildest dreams in a way that you like (which could, by the way, include Africa). Perhaps this ultimately boils down to whether we believe God wants what's good for us, or whether we deep down believe God somehow wants to punish us for something. I dunno... maybe it's not that cut and dried.
So, I don't know that I have anything figured out, or how I would even rate myself on any of these at the moment. Certainly there are a lot of variables and intricacies. However, it is good to have some concrete items to stare in the face that I know I need his help with. Here's to going there...