Being & Building Followers & Friends of Jesus
Let me eat when I'm hungry / let me drink when I'm dry / two dollars when I'm hard up / religion when I die... —"Moonshiner," traditional (via Dylan and esp. Uncle Tupelo, in my case)
Religion, in its truest form, is for when we die. But much of what passes for religion—and what's often perceived as "religion" from the outside—has gotten away from one huge fact, and it's this: That dying takes place the moment we receive Christ, and we are to spend the rest of our lives living out of that death.
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life....
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace (Romans 6:3–4, 12-14)
We are to walk out in the newness of life, and walk away from the deadness of the old life. To grow closer to Christ is to grow away from the things we used to hold onto—and may still hold onto, even as Christians.
Our spiritual progress is not measured by our feelings—even legitimate feelings of joy in doing God's will—but in the degree of obedience we have toward God's will. Are we willing to follow, no matter what the circumstanecs, no matter how fulfilled or empty or or peaceful or overwhelmed we're feeling? Are we really willing to put ourselves aside for Christ's sake? That's when we know we're getting somewhere in God's kingdom.
"And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" (John 17:3), Everything else is incidental.