In my post entitled The Struggle, I concluded that struggling with sin was a normative part of following Jesus. An implication of this truth was that those who follow him need to become master strugglers, a Jedi Knight of Christianity. A master struggler is a maturing believers who, though not “made perfect” (at least not yet) has learned to to struggle well, to “walk in the Spirit” rather than be controlled by the world, their flesh, and the schemes of the enemy. Based on my twenty plus years of struggling (I haven’t always embraced the struggle for those of you who know my age), here are some Jedi training modules others have taught me from scripture:
- Know the goal. (John 17:3) I read this morning in my TAWG (Time Alone With God) that the “greatest benefit of the union with Christ is Christ.” (Michael Reeves, Rejoicing In Christ) Knowing Him is the goal and all the other stuffwe talk about like holiness, spiritual maturity, loving our neighbor, etc. is the outflow of a relationship with him. Without him all the other stuff becomes a hindrance to struggling well.
- Build biblical community. (Ephesians 4:11-15) Biblical community is a broader term for being in relationship with other believers. Biblical community should include large group teaching and worship, small group discussion, and intentional discipleship with a few. Jesus connected our relationship to him and to his father with our relationship with other believers and even the lost world. (John 13:35, 17:23)
- Become a Christian optimist. (Philippians. 4:8) A Christian optimist is someone who is positive the Word and the words of God are able to affect change in every area of their life, especially the struggle. They read, study, listen to others teach, memorize, mediate, and think about scripture. A Christian optimist thinks the word when in midst of the struggle.
- Remember sin is both internal and external. Struggling believers often get so focused on the sin within them that forget that the unholy trinity includes Satan and the world (John 15:9). We not only sin but we are sinned against and we have an enemy who seeks to destroy any good. (John 10:10)
- Focus on the c0-mission. (Matthew 28:18-20) We live in a self-obsessed culture but Jesus calls us to die to self and join in joining the Spirit in helping others know and follow him.
- Eat Grace & Truth. (John 17:1) Jesus came to bring grace and truth, grace and truth are the food of spiritual growth, both are essential. Avoid people, organizations, and theology that offers only truth without grace or only grace without truth. Either extreme leads to spiritual malnutrition and stunted growth which and weak struggling.
And finally Never Ever Ever Give Up! (Hebrews 12:4) Struggling with sin may be a normative part of the Christian life but the peace and joy and purpose that comes in struggling well and helping others struggle well can also be a part of the Christian life.