The following column is an opinion piece and reflects the views of only the author and not those of The Georgia Virtue.
By: Dr. William F. Holland Jr., minister, chaplain, and author of the column series ‘Living on Purpose’. You can read more about the Christian life and see other works by Dr. Holland at billyhollandministries.com
It’s easy to find people who can express their opinions about the Bible while at the same time having a tight grip on the amount of their will they surrender to God. Sound familiar? In a controlled environment and at a comfortable distance many live their lives keeping God in a box and only letting Him out when they want something or have a crisis. I can write from my own experiences as I’ve lived much of my life this way. It’s only after spending years researching about the war between our carnality and God’s Spirit, have I been graciously given a glimpse of the difference between Christianity and religiosity. We could say that being a disciple of Jesus Christ is accepting God to be our master, while religion attempts to be the master of God. Instead of trying to create a concept of the way we hope He is, it would be wise to embrace Him the way He really is.
Included within the blessings of being human, we’ve been given what is called free will. This means each of us has the opportunity to believe whatever we want. The one who created us does not force us to love or serve Him however, He does convict and draws people to Himself. Ultimately, it’s up to the individual to choose whom they will serve. Some will say they serve no one, but in reality, they are still serving themselves. For those who proclaim to be Christians, we are reminded that we have just as much God as we want which again is controlled by our will. We have the invitation and freedom to decide how serious we are and where to draw the line in our commitment to follow Christ. Let’s say everything we regard as important in this life is like a plate of food and religion squirts two drops of hot sauce which represents God into the mix and then we justify it all as being satisfactorily flavored. This might be alright on our enchilada but Jesus did not die on the cross to be a part of our life, He wants to be our entire life! We are not to add God to how we are already living but to be transformed as we build our lives around Him. Religion talks about taking up their cross, but being an overcomer for Jesus carries it. This is the hour where followers of Christ are being called to examine where God is on their priority list.
Building our relationship with God uses some of the same principles as building the mind and the body. We study to build the mind and to build the body we begin with light weights and after regular workouts; we increase the resistance to become stronger. Those who are legitimately interested in sacrifice and self-discipline have come to a point in their vision and determination where they cannot be stopped. Likewise, Christians have been commanded to advance in their spirituality as we are constantly being tested with difficult situations and opportunities to display God’s nature and character. God’s design is for us to comprehend and succeed in the less difficult situations before we move on to more complicated responsibilities. Our covenant vow within our salvation is more than just a membership or a worldview but rather a life that is hidden in the heart of God. The question is how devoted are we to develop this needed level of spiritual awareness?
Believing we can live however we want, and that God thinks this is perfectly fine is a popular subject. However, this intentional deception and denial where we are convinced that our behavior has nothing to do with eternity completely nullifies the purpose of having a God at all. We will never rise above our carnality and disobedience until we learn that our mind and free will must be united together in their dedication to God. Without this decision to be consumed with Him, we will never live under His control. Knowing what we should do without surrendering our will to God’s will is why many live in a cycle of defeat and disappointment. If we believe in a divine creator who wrote the Bible, we know His intention is for us to love and worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Luke 6:46 is a sobering reminder that if we do not follow and obey what He says He is not our Lord.