The Real Challenges of the Life in Christ
There are very real Challenges when we follow the teachings and leadings of Christ. Because of our very human nature it might take some time to really live through the challenges.
- Dealing with Doubts
Doubts are bound to arise about God, about whether He loves to punish us or to love us, equating Him to our parents. It is the way our mind works. But I think doubts can also be God’s way of leading us beyond where our beliefs and experience have taken us to far. Doubts can be the opening for more devotion to God as we drop some of the narrow beliefs about God and embrace a bigger, truer concept of God. What I am saying is that God himself can be the source of our doubts. Above all we want our concepts and beliefs about God to grow and change as we grow in our faith and drop some of the God-in-a-box thinking that makes Him sound like just a bigger-than-human, but still HUMAN deity. I’m not sure that our limited human minds can really entertain the whole of who God is and what He does. But the doubts we have can lead us to greater truth about God.
- Surrendering self, our expectations, to leave the world behind
Are we really willing to give up all of who we think we are, our desires that life would go the way we want it to go? Will we lay our hearts, minds, bodies and spirits on God’s altar? Will we give over every single area of our lives from family to work to leisure time to friends to dreams and longings? Will we walk hand-in-hand with God through every single thing in our lives and obey Him in all that we say and do?
It is not easy to leave the world and embrace God as the sole source of guidance. We’ve lived in the world all our lives and don’t often realize the extent to which it has trained us how to be, how to live, what to desire and how to get it. Standing apart from its influence is a great, huge step in trusting God.
- Seeing God as a loving God.
Are we afraid of God as described in all those angry passages in the Old Testament or are we in awe of the enormity of a God who created this entire universe, this planet with its projected 7,000,000 to 8,000,000 species of plants and animals? Are we afraid of His punitive nature or embraced by His love? Are we captivated by the beauty of this world that He created? Do we live in gratitude for everything that He has done for us and continues to do for us? Jesus taught that God is a loving, forgiving God, like the father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. [Luke 15:11-32] That He sends His rain to fall and sun to shine on everyone equally. [Matt 5:45] That he cares for the needy, the poor and the foreigner. [Lev. 25:35] That He is all about justice and mercy.[Micah 6:8]
- Actually feeling God’s love
To me this is the greatest challenge, because we can “know” from the Bible that God loves us and yet never feel His love for us or see His love for us or anyone else. Most of us are still holding God at bay because we have never felt worthy of His love. Our own self-images and all that the culture has taught us about ourselves has us holding God at arm’s length. The first step towards the God of Love is to think that if God can love me, then surely I can love myself. That I could actually look at myself and my life with God’s eyes of love. And when I do that, then I can embrace myself as I am sure that God does; then the walls I have built around me start to crumble. I am then more and more aware of His presence. I can feel His presence, His inspiration, His help and guidance. I begin to live in total partnership with God in which it is hard to distinguish where God ends and I begin.
- Keeping our attention on what we are called to do here on earth.
Let’s allow the Biblical teachings about what awaits us in heaven to recede as of much lesser importance than our calling in the here and now. We who are still living on this earth need to speak and act in God’s will, in His purpose for us to give to this world as He gives to each of us. We can be so excited about what awaits us in heaven and so ego-excited that we’re the chosen that we forget that we are to be love and peace and joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control(humility)—the fruit of the Spirit in this world, right now. [Gal 5:22-3]
All of these challenges, once laid on God’s altar with prayers for His healing, will be met by God. Any problems with trust in God or dependence on Him in our lives will be healed. That is what the bulk of the life in Christ is about: healing ourselves of all our rebelliousness and lack of integrity so that we can bring our whole selves to God in love and then live out our purpose here on earth. I have found that there is no end to the healing that can happen while we are here on earth, but that Christ knows us so well and the steps He would have us take to come to be able to love God, ourselves and others that we can, over time, feel how different we have become from the person we once were when we depended mostly on ourselves and on other people.
If you have experienced other challenges, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear how they went for you.
 There are more than 2,000 verses in the Bible that tell us to take care of the poor and needy.