Not Settling for Less
“I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.” —William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army
Not to sound too negative, but we’ve seen this lived out. Droves of people want to hear inspirational teaching about how to live life, be better parents, handle their finances, or conquer any other worries of life. They just do it without knowing Christ. As I heard one minister put it, they have the principles without the Prince.
That’s a scary place to be, made doubly so because it feels fairly comfortable. You feel like a good person. You try to do right by people and live according to the Bible, and hey, you’re not doing as bad as ol’ so-and-so down the street.
The Gospel is not a set of rules or a “sinner’s prayer.” The Gospel is Jesus. It’s in His name, through His blood, and by His grace that we are saved through faith in Him.
We rightly push for our deeds to match what our mouths profess, but apart from Christ, they are empty.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. —Matthew 7:21
We may talk about the great things we’ve done and how we helped this one or that, but we can miss the point entirely. Jesus didn’t come so that we would have the right teaching and be better to one another. He came so that we would be completely transformed and renewed. He bought restored relationship with our Father. He provided the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to live changed and impact the world.
The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and spiritless. Faith may now be exercised without a jar to the moral life and without embarrassment to the Adamic ego. Christ may be “received” without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. The man is “saved,” but he is not hungry nor thirsty after God. In fact he is specifically taught to be satisfied and encouraged to be content with little. —A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
God is a person. He is a person that responds to our hunger and desperation. As many are taught to settle for less and “be content with little” as Tozer said, we are missing out on the greatest experiences of our lives. We build a theology around what we don’t understand instead of pressing into to know Him better.
I don’t see that in scripture. I see hungry men and women who not only had a lip-service relationship with God, but living intimacy. I know I’ve too often talked about relationship while trying to figure out formulas, but it’s a dead-end. God forgive me if I’ve ever taught or conveyed anything other than the truth of this living relationship with Jesus.
I want the real. Whatever lies ahead, I will push for the experience of truth, life, and faith. I will press into the reality of joy, wholeness, and freedom. I will run headlong until I find grace, love, and faithfulness.
David certainly didn’t settle for easy answers and vague notions of mystery.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life. —Psalm 143:8
And that cry came in the middle of one where his enemies pursued him and he thought his spirit would fail. That’s the kind of hunger I want. I don’t want to shape God in my image. I earnestly desire for Him to form Christ in me.
What are you thoughts on those quotes? Do you feel the hunger inside you?
Welcome to week 2 of our book club discussion of the Pursuit of God (disclosure) by A.W. Tozer. We are taking a sentence, paragraph, or passage that inspires, encourages, or challenges and writing about it. If you have a response on your blog, add it in the link widget below and be sure to check out the other entries. Also head over to my friend and co-facilitator, Sarah Salter’s blog for another great take. Whether you’ve read the selection or not, please share your thoughts! We always appreciate a vibrant conversation.