There are many principles to a healthy relationship with Jesus, but there are no “12 steps” to becoming a mature disciple. There is no magic bullet, no one thing that if you just do this, you will walk on mountaintops with God through the entirety of your life. Trust me…I have tried to find one. And there are plenty of people out there who will tell you “if you JUST do this (name your religious practice),” then you will be closer to Jesus. My skepticism aside, discipleship (following Christ here on earth) will be the messiest, most unpredictable, constant battle of our lives.
But we want the magic bullet. We want the one cure-all thing that will take this tension we feel inside us and help us to make the right choices and follow Jesus. But I think without the tension, we would miss a part of the depth of His love for us. Jesus loves us knowing the war inside of us, He loves us in spite of it, and He is there in the muck of it all with us.
Truth be told, discipleship is hard. But I have found when I am in my most broken times, when I am most tempted, when I feel most defeated, is when Jesus feels the closest…not the times I have been unaffected by the world around me. It takes discipline, it takes freedom, it takes wrestling and warring with the stuff inside of us, it takes honest communication with God, and it takes resting in the truth that ultimately the battle has already been won. And while we fight and grow to see our righteousness (that has been given to us by Christ) lived out in our lives, we trust that TODAY, right now, we stand victorious and redeemed.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.
For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,
but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind
and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind,
but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free
in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
(Romans 7:21-8:2, ESV)