For so long before this storm, things were going so well I had only petty complaints. That nagging doubt at the back of my mind, that it shouldn’t be this way, that calm waters are stagnant waters? Easily ignored.
That comfortable, easy place I’d been living in for so long? A trap. It’s not the Peace of Christ, but the anesthetized-entertained comfort of sitting in front of the television set with a big bowl of ice cream.
It doesn’t make me profoundly grateful. It makes me weak.
The struggle of exercise – walking, lifting weights, swimming, climbing, running, wrestling itself – makes us stronger. So does the struggle of our spirit – studying things that challenge our preconceived notions and existing interpretations, practicing empathy to understand why others differ, letting our hearts break with those who are suffering profoundly, getting our lives dirty, looking ridiculous, walking as Jesus did, among those who are “other” and beyond the pale of respectable society.
We were meant to struggle. We were never meant to coast. There is no cruise control in the Christian life.
But that’s what we do so often.
- We know what we believe – or at least what our denominations believe – and we never question it.
- We accept our interpretation of the Bible as being as infallible as the Bible itself.
- We accept our respectable social circle as right, superior, almost sacred.
- We let our socially acceptable sins slide. It’s not really gossip, I mean, not if you spread it out out love…
- We accept our privileged American lifestyle as our birthright.
- We accept our nation’s sins and crimes, no matter how many suffer and die for our “security” or to produce the consumer goods we crave.
- We unconsciously assume that a “Just War” and an “American War” are one and the same.
- Or perhaps we blindly take the political left’s side. There’s no reason to pick on conservatives. Spiritual laziness is apolitical.
I’ve been guilty of all of these in the past. And my spirit, like my physical health, has paid the price.
I’m making a commitment here to struggle every day. It won’t be hard to find things to push back against.
- my distractedness
- my physical laziness
- my tendency to let Katherine do too much of the housework
- my uncharitable thoughts, especially about those in authority
- my tendency to eat too much of the wrong foods
- my tendency to make everything about me and what I want/feel/think/believe
- my privilege as a white, male, middle-class, heterosexual cisgender American
- and so on
Ultimately, this struggle isn’t about the little details or the individual sins. It fundamentally affects what kind of person I am.
Ephesians 6:12 (NASB) says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
If we don’t struggle, if we just coast in our well-fed first-world lives, what use are we?