Hi everyone, Rob here.
Nearly everyone I know has good intentions, myself included. And nearly everyone I know would say that there is a gap between their good intentions and reality, myself included. I really do want to be a loving and attentive husband and father, a good and available friend, a witness in the community to Christ, a caring and compassionate pastor to the broken-hearted, an effective preacher in touch with the Spirit as well as the Word, and so on and so on. No doubt, you have your own list. It’s just that sometimes I’m tired, sometimes I’m cranky or others are, sometimes I feel inadequate, sometimes other things get in the way and so on and so on. But here’s the thing. It’s the good intentions that point to our deepest reality, and not the shortcomings or the stumbling blocks. The fact that we have a desire to serve God, love God and do his will is a sign pointing to our new hearts in Christ and the eternity set in those hearts.
I love the argument Paul makes in Romans 7 and 8. He sums up the human dilemma in 7:21-25.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
The deepest parts of ourselves want to obey God, but we feel wretched when other forces pull us away from that. We can feel like a slave to sin, but that’s not our true self. It’s our old self and that’s been dealt with through Jesus Christ. So Paul goes on to say in 8:1-2,
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
It is Christ himself who bridges the gap between our good intentions and the reality of life. In him we are free from condemnation, sin and death. Our instinct when we notice the gap is to try harder. We just think that if we put more effort in the gap will be bridged, good intentions will turn into reality and our life will have purpose and fulfillment. But we can’t bridge the gap no matter how hard we try. Here’s the reality.
…we remember ourselves by remembering Jesus Christ – Mark Labberton
Christ bridges the gap by bringing us into his life through his death and resurrection. This is what living a Spirit-led life means. It means that we live the life Jesus would live if he were us. So the answer isn’t trying harder, it’s remembering Jesus and re-presenting ourselves to him. As we do that we take our place once again in the love of God-Father, Son and Spirit.
Paul goes on to say this:
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
This is the truth that our good intentions are pointing to. We are beloved children of God. Father, Son and Spirit work together so we can understand this. but the old, sinful self needs to be put to death and the Trinity works together to help us do this also. Rise to a new life in Christ, a new identity. Mind the gap between good intentions and lived reality, but surrender, don’t strive. Remember Christ to discover yourself. Let the Spirit lead you and may grace and peace be yours.