There is an area of the gym I don’t venture into all that often; the heavy weights area for the wannabe bodybuilders! Large muscle sculptured physiques covered in tattoos, lifing twice their body weight…and that’s just the females!! Don’t get me wrong, I can lift weights…I can comfortably bench press a weight that any teenage girl would be proud of! Yet, when it comes to the diehard, protein shake drinking bodybuilders, I’m out of my depth. In fact, I’ve never even braved the bodybuilder’s area when no one has been around for fear of getting trapped in some piece of foreign apparatus! At the gym, I’m aware of who I am, what my body can (or can’t) do, and when I compare myself to others I’m humbled (or shamed into humility) as I realise that what my brain told me I could do is not what my body is able (or willing) to do!
Similarly, in life we want to be better, achieve more, strive to be more determined and reach our true potential. We hit the spiritual gym, maybe twice on a Sunday and a few times during the week; depending what classes are offered. We work hard. We try hard. We are proud people. We take control. We deal with problems and seek to fix and solve them as best we can. We feel confident in our abililities, achievements, and successes.
In our spiritual life, are we bench pressing too much? Are we overconfident, venturing into an area that is out of our depth? Maybe we are carrying too much of the weight or exerting too much strain. I don’t know about you, but life can be exhausting at times. It’s hard to balance everything, to juggle all the balls, and to have the time or the energy to plough through a day. Yet busyness and confidence in self-abilities, which mean we act largely independently from God, are a hindrance to true Godliness, and not something to revel in.
In a recent sermon we looked at the rich young ruler in Luke 18. A morally good man. A rich, powerful, and prestigious man; but a man who worshipped and placed his whole identity in the wrong thing. A man outside the kingdom of God. “If this very good and very upright man cannot enter into heaven, then who on earth can?” asks one of the disciples perplexed (Luke 18:26). The answer lies in Luke 18:15-17; little children. “The kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (v16). The passage is not saying to be childish – but childlike. We are encouraged to grow and mature in our faith and relationship with God. Yet we are always to have childlike humility. In contrast to the rich, powerful, and prestigious ruler, are the poor, powerless, and the least. This is countercultural. It’s upside down. In our society it’s the powerful who are great. Not so with Jesus’ teaching. The kingdom of God is for those who recognise their inadequacies, weaknesses, and total inabilities.
A true relationship with God is marked by humility and an utter dependence on Him for everything. Before God I should realise who I am. I should be humbled. Humbled daily as I grow in an understanding of how awesome, powerful, and great God is. Also because of the example of Jesus, who humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross (Phil 2:8).
Maybe we need to go back to basics and realise we cannot do everything. Maybe we will not know every step of God’s plan and purpose in a logical black and white manner. Maybe we need to let go of our agenda or life plan. “Let go and let God,” almost seems too blasé. Too immature. Too risky and foolish. But maybe that’s because we are not humble or childlike enough, to fully trust God and depend on Him who is infinitely wiser. We hurt, we struggle, and past circumstances can blur future perspective. Yet maybe God is trying to gently remind us that He is enough, that we can cast ALL our anxieties on him and that he does care! He is your Father, you are His child – you are loved and accepted completely.
Stop trying, stop doing (as hard as that might be) and surrender your whole life over to Him in childlike humility.
He must become greater; I must become less (John 3:30).