Wasteland Kings

One of my pastors says living with one foot in the church and one in the world is the opposite of fun. When he says church, he means the body of believers who follow after Christ; not the building. This is an important distinction because many people just show up to the building and don’t experience the fruits of a faithful life.

They miss out on the awesome fellowship of spending time with other believers, the benefits of accountability, and the joys of serving others.

They do get to enjoy the fun parts of living in the world. While this lifestyle comes with plenty of painful consequences, it does feel great in the moment. Those pleasures are diminished when you’re a Christian though because the Holy Spirit convicts us.

I know all too well the feelings of regret and remorse which come with my mistakes. Many Christians deal with this grief on a consistent basis and don’t experience many of joys which come with our faith. I write this not out of condemnation, Romans 8 makes it clear none can land on any Christian.

I write this because I am one who stood with one foot in the world and the other in the church.

This truth came close to landing in my heart a few times over the last couple years. I heard the aforementioned pastor talk about the problem a multitude of times. I didn’t think it applied to me because I was checking all of the boxes.

I’d dived into a small group and opened up to them each week. I served consistently and attended church social events. I even went on a mission trip to Africa and served as co-leader on a retreat.

Those outward actions blinded me to the reality of having one foot in the world.

Things started to become very clear when I was going through my workbook for Regen last week. One of the days involved two questions back to back.

The first said “Review your calendar and financial records for the last month. On what did you spend most of your time and money?” The next asked “Consider your thought life over the last month. What did you “worship” with your mind? Some examples might be the focus of conversations, daydreams, or thoughts that kept you awake at night”.

The two questions did not receive similar answers. My answer to the first was “travel, food, working out, and video games”. Those were my three greatest expenses of time and money.

The second question received the answers “dating, money, and approval/success”. It’s of some interest that I’m not in need of any of those three. I’m not dating, in a financial bind, or recovering from a recent failure or rejection. My apparent lack of need in those areas is not of utmost importance though.

The importance comes from how my thought life diverges from my actions. I serve one master with the former and another with the latter. This leads to a less than desirable life.

I feel an angst most days which is difficult to describe. It feels kind of like a combination of unsatisfied desires, worry, and thwarted hope. The divergence of my thoughts and actions play a role in the existence of the angst.

It causes me to expend energy in two different directions. This keeps me from making much progress in either direction. Which in turn makes me feel more tired than accomplished at the end of the day.

I have often laid my head down at night and wondered if all the work I’m doing is worth it. I feel like a hamster on a wheel most days of the week. That is what happens when you expend equal energy in two different directions.

If I worked two full time jobs with the normal amount of work hours, I’d run out of gas and feel like I was going nowhere. It would feel impossible to please either of my bosses. I would not get the joy or satisfaction from doing a good job.

I’ve been serving God with my actions and myself with my thoughts. I’m missing out on the peace which comes from trusting God with things like dating and my future. I’m also exhausted from expending a great deal of energy and not going far in either direction.

Yesterday, my small group talked about how sometimes God teaches us by letting us have exactly what we want. See 1 Samuel chapter 8 for an example. I wanted two masters, God gave me what I wanted, and it’s been terrible.

I will have to take a serious look at my thought life and what I seek in it. I am sure taking the issue to God and talking to Him about it will help. I hope one day my actions and thoughts will together seek the pleasure, peace, and joy of knowing Christ.

Each of us is a work in progress. God is not mad at us for requiring this work. He is inviting us to work through these issues with Him so we can experience the abundant life He wants to give us. (John 10:10)

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Uncontrollable Love

Matthew Rial