I think sometimes the reason the Christian walk can be / seem so difficult for many, is because of our natural inclination to accomplish things, compared to simply being within a discipline.
We make to-do lists, so that we can check them off.
We make money, so we can reach or accomplish financial goals.
We work in school, to accomplish the goal of a degree.
Our ideals revolve around “completion” - the idea that with enough effort and work, we can “accomplish” that goal. It makes us feel good. Like we’ve “done” something. We can sit back and say, “you know what, that really paid off.”
Despite the fact we’re wired for such an inclination - the Christian walk (in some aspects) is the one “un-accomplishable.”
I speak in regards to imitating Christ. We can strive for the perfect life of Christ, as we are to do - to live as He did, in all we say and do. To love Him through our lives. But our humanity holds us back thanks to it’s corruption, and our sinful nature. We can never, of our own effort or attempt, meet that “goal” - or “accomplish” such a task.
In fact, the scriptures even speak of our chance for perfection…” If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 Jn. 1:8)
So how do we accomplish the un-accomplishable? How do we find a moment’s rest…? How do we sit back and smile, and utter words of joy in the completion of our task?
I wanted to take a look at this concept, of “goals” - that which can be accomplished - and see what scripture said about it. The Apostle Paul actually does speaks of “goals” when speaking of the Christian walk.
2 Corinthians 5:9 reads:
“So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. “
Phillipians 3:14 reads:
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
What is such a goal, and shouldn’t goals be accomplish-able? I think Paul compares the Christian walk to the training and work and striving of an athelete for that very reason - because we are WIRED to desire accomplishment, WIRED to “win” or reach a “goal” - just as atheletes train to win first place, we too are to strive physcially and spiritually to reach that goal. The goal is to what…? PLEASE Christ, as 2nd Corinthians read above. But how?
In Galations, Paul chastens them:
“Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?”
Apart from the spirit of God, we cannot accomplish our goal. Just as the people Paul is speaking to above could not recieve the Spirit itself by following the law, they could not accomplish the goal by fullfilling or following the law. Human effort fails in it’s attempts to reach the goal. To please Christ, to strive towards the goal, one must submit to Him first, not try and win by human effort alone.
Does this mean every week we strive towards the goal, we’ll have a list we can check off or a certificate awarded to us? No…our worldly standards for completion and accomplishment are not the same as God’s - and so we much seek the Spirit of God to grant us the peace that comes from the knowledge of God. Only the Spirit can place upon our hearts the peace that we seek - no checklist or award shall meet it.