Doing God's will (trusting him) is not an option if we wish to be free. We need to do it just like we need to eat food.
‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. (John 4:34)
When we trust and obey Jesus, we are doing God’s will. Do I always do God's will? Of course not, but I aim to. (If you are wondering how to do God's will, see here.)
There have been many things I have not attempted, or given up on, because I was afraid of failure. But is not the fear of failure the fear of man?
A perfect faith would lift us absolutely above fear. ~ George MacDonald
If we are to really put God first we must embrace the possibility of failure and do what we know we ought to do, instead of simply doing that which we think we can succeed at. The more I grow, the more I realise I will fail to do what God would have me do the way he would have me do it. Following Jesus is a blow to the ego (see here). But without God we are lost. (And that is why we should pray. See here.)
God wants me to be pure in heart. He wants me to be honest, kind, brave, and fair. For the more I am like him, the more I will understand him, and the more intimate I will be with him. And I pray these things for those who love me and those who hate me. I also pray these things for those in positions of power.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Cor 13:4-7).
But loving is not always easy, and being loved is not always pleasant. Love can be very tough. I write the following as much to myself as I do to all those who call themselves Christians.
If someone is not trying to do what Jesus says, they are not one of his followers. Most Christians would be better off if they stopped calling themselves Christians, and stopped saying they will do this or that and instead simply started (right this instant) to do what Jesus says.
When we—who call ourselves Christians—start being honest with ourselves, we will change the world.
“Friends, if we be honest with ourselves, we shall be honest with each other.” ~ George MacDonald
Promises to do this or that are not wise. It is better to let your yes be yes and your no no (See Matt 7:36, 37). Doing this is not the same as denying Christ; we can still honour Jesus by what we do and say. We can still patiently endure (See Matt 24:9-13).
“The principle part of faith is patience.” ~ George MacDonald
The mere attempt at putting Jesus words into practice, drives us to God for help. (If you've never tried, and you wonder what such an attempt might look like, read Donal Grant by George MacDonald. And if you're still wondering how to begin, the following might help. See here.)
Below are some of my goals and my thoughts about what it means to be a Christian. (And a little bit about myself.)
One of my goals each day is very modest. It is to do at least one thing, or refrain from doing something because Jesus said to. By this I do not mean doing those things which I already do, or not doing things I already don’t do; I mean doing something I would not normally do or refraining from something I would not normally refrain from, simply because he told me to. If I am not trying to do this I'm not actually following Jesus and should not call myself a Christian. (Note: Never go against your conscience. If you think God is asking you to do something which would cause you to go against your conscience, don't do it. See here.)
As an ambassador of Christ, my aim is to bring glory to God through the way I live. (When people do evil things in God’s name his name is cursed. But when good is done in his name his name is praised by people who know a lot about the God of the Bible, and it is also praised by those who know very little about him.) God has given me everything; I can give something back. The mere attempt to do what Jesus says brings God joy. He is easily pleased.
Perhaps you have been wrongly taught that God is hard to please. If so, I’m sure you’ll find the following comforting.
“Though Jesus Christ is very hard to satisfy, He is very easy to please. Think of that and it will help you a little. He is very easy to please, but very hard to satisfy. If you will but let Him in, and you have not much to put on the table. You cannot share much of life because you have not got it, He will be so pleased, if it be but a cup of cold water that you can give him. Let it be something genuine, something real.” – George MacDonald. From the sermon “The Father’s Appeal”, preached in Westminster Chapel. See also.
I really believe God is good. I believe he does everything because of love. (Not many do. See here.)
I believe God became a man and died for me. And all he wants me to do in return is to trust him and enjoy him.
"When my child would serve me," he went on," he spies out some need I have, springs from his seat at my knee, finds that which will meet my necessity, and is my eager, happy servant, of consequence in his own eyes inasmuch as he has done something for his father. His seat by my knee is love, delight, well-being, peace--not service, however pleasing in my eyes.--'Why do you seat yourself at my knee, my son?' 'To please you, father.' 'Nay then, my son! go from me, and come again when it shall be to please thyself.'--'Why do you cling to my chair, my daughter? 'Because I want to be near you, father. It makes me so happy!' 'Come nearer still--come to my bosom, my child, and be yet happier.'--Talk not of public worship as divine service; it is a mockery. Search the prophets and you will find the observances, fasts and sacrifices and solemn feasts, of the temple by them regarded with loathing and scorn, just because by the people they were regarded as DIVINE SERVICE." (Taken from Thomas Wingfold, Curate by George MacDonald)
To enjoy God, and repent of sin, that is what it means to be a Christian (see here).
I believe the truth leads to the true God.
"He who begins by loving Christianity more than Truth will proceed by loving his sect or church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself better than all." ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge
We must love truth more than our beliefs about God. The Christian, Atheist, Muslim or Hindu who loves their beliefs or doctrines about God more than truth, will not be able to accept truth when it contradicts what they have come to believe. We must not be afraid of where the truth might lead. We must not be afraid to ask hard questions.
Asking questions is never a problem. The problem is most people never ask the right question.
Near the beginning of one of George MacDonald's books, Thomas Wingfold, Curate, an atheist challenges a minister about God's existence. This causes him to doubt God's existence and because of that, he starts thinking about giving up the ministry. Wingfold keeps this to himself and shares it only with a trusted friend. This leads to a discussion about whether or not God exists. He asks his friend, “How am I to know that there is a God?"
His friend responds:
"It were a more pertinent question, sir, If there be a God, how am I to find him?"’
That’s the right question to ask.
I expect a lot of opposition from those who love their doctrines (their beliefs about God) more than truth. (If you attend a church, all I ask is that if someone in your church holds views which you regard as heretical and dangerous, that you address the "problem" the way Jesus said such problems should be addressed (see here). Unfortunately I think most people who believe what I believe can relate to the story told in the sermon The Outcasts Comforted.)
It can be hard for people who have studied the scriptures intently to admit that they might be wrong. They are not likely to give those who disagree with them a fair hearing. (When we fail to put obedience before understanding, our intellects can lead us astray. For examples see A Biblical Critique of Penal Substitution, Atonement, Justice and Peace by Darrin W. Snyder Belousek and The Quest for Cosmic Justice by Thomas Sowell.)
But I'm not just a victim. I'm an agent. Because I have often loved the things of this world more than God, I have sought those things instead of seeking to enjoy and trust God. When I seek things more than the giver of all good things, I hurt myself and others. God is better than any gift he can give. When I seek him first, he begins to set things right (only then can things take their proper place in this world).
When I’m seeking something or someone more than God, that is the source of my strength, not God. And because I might not get that thing, or I might lose that thing, I worry. If God is the source of our joy, strength, and peace, we are untouchable. Nothing can destroy us.
"If it be Things that slay you, what matter whether things you have, or things you have not?" (Taken from the sermon "The Cause of Spiritual Stupidity." See the first of three parts below)
We should strive to be the best men and women we can be. It’s not wrong to wish to be great and it’s not wrong to compete. (Though it is wrong to try and be better than others. No one in God's Kingdom will seek to be better than another. See here. It is not wrong to compete with others to help them become better. If you do so you'll be a good winner when you win, and you'll be a good loser when you lose.)
I know that only God can make me all that I'm meant to be. Only he can help me rise above the cares of this world.
God means more and more to me every day. He has set me free and he is setting me free. The more I trust, enjoy, and seek him, the freer and stronger I become.
So who am I?
I have no letters after my name.* I'm an Australian who does manual labour in construction.
But that's enough about me. I want to know a little bit about you. What inspired you to read this page?
Perhaps, like me, you not only wish to be free of the things that enslave, you also wish to see the church reformed. If so, please write. The Kingdom of God is more important than the unity of the Church.
A Grateful Servant of the King,
"For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. " ~ 2 Tim 1:7
"Discipline equals freedom." ~ Jocko Willink
I've talked about spiritual discipline. How do I discipline myself regarding my health? You might find this helpful. See here.