Desire and discipline

Hi everyone, Rob here. In the wake of the Olympics I was drawn to these verses of Paul’s in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NLT): “Don’t you realise that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” I feel like that about preaching too!

When I was young and athletic I ran to win but I certainly didn’t train to win. It bugs me now that I never fulfilled my sporting potential because I was so averse to the hard work needed to reach a higher level. The same could also be said of my academic achievements (or lack of). Now I am older, wiser and slower and am finally starting to embrace the discipline needed to become all that I am meant to be in Jesus. With sport and academia, my desire for success was never strong enough to make me give up my comforts and embrace the necessary sacrifices. But with Jesus, my new heart aches when I choose my needs/comforts/pleasures over knowing him more deeply and intimately.

When we desire something desperately we will go to any lengths to get what we want. This can lead to addictions, relational heartbreak and major disappointment if it doesn’t happen. We often need to check that our desires are for the right things. As Paul writes in Philippians 3:12-15; “…I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus is calling us.”

How hungry and thirsty are we for Jesus? Do we desperately want more of him and less of us? Do we eagerly desire to know him and to make him known? Do we realise how much we need God and depend on him for what really matters. Here’s what I wrote for our church on Sunday as I reflected on this:

‘I’ll tell you what I’m depending on God for today; holiness. I can earn money and look after my health, but I can’t make myself holy. And because my deepest desire is to dwell with God, then holiness is necessary. If I wasn’t interested in God; if he wasn’t my Alpha and Omega; my beginning and end; my life and my breath, then holiness is irrelevant. But because my heart has been made new in Christ, then my desire is to know him and dwell with him. Jesus has made me holy through his death on the cross, but every day, and many times during the day, I ask for the ability to live up to who I really am. And I’ve discovered that means giving up who I think I am. I give up trying to be super-pastor; super-dad; super nice-guy; super apple of my beloved’s eye – you get the picture. All I’m asked to be is surrendered, dependent, humble, worshipful and thankful. I love you Jesus, I’m sorry Jesus, forgive me and fill me Jesus. Thank you Jesus.’

Desire Jesus and his life. Press on towards him. Submit to the Father’s discipline and let’s become who we are meant to be in him.

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