Life in the Kingdom of God – on earth as in heaven, is so very different from us trying our best to please God or reach him through religious ritual. It’s very easy to become disheartened and frustrated with ourselves at times; or with a sense that “I’ll never make it, be good enough, feel spiritual, or beat this battle within me to do my own thing.” Our natural and very normal default approach is to try harder and to distill Christianity down to performance or duty. The good news is if we start with ourselves and read the Bible as a book of instructions we’ll fail every time.
Graham Cooke exhorts us to “learn to love the learning.” In other words recognize that this Christian journey is a lifelong process that will always reveal our inability to accomplish what only God can do in us. Trying to be spiritual or like Jesus on our own is as futile and frankly pathetic as a lightbulb striving to produce bright light by reflecting the sun. It cannot burn bright by reflecting its surroundings or circumstances. It has to be connected with a power source that releases light within to shine out. It is forever dependent upon electric power for it to be complete and fulfil it’s purpose and destiny. That truth and reality is not a source of shame, inadequacy, or personal failure – it’s how it was created to ‘be’. To resignedly declare, “I’m not spiritual,” is to miss the point.
Be careful therefore not to give up or become discouraged. Keep coming back to ask yourself what your source of power is. Jesus came into the world to inspire and encourage, as well as to break down barriers that separate us from God the Father. He’s like the great electrician after a power outage who rides into town and gets hydro up and running again. We had an outage on Monday morning and suddenly everything we depend upon and take for granted stopped working. The fridge no longer hums, heating evaporates and cold air muscles in at the first opportunity to chill the atmosphere, lights don’t work, the computer shuts down, there’s no power for coffee, the water pump in the well doesn’t send water flowing through the system.
Of course my response is to go and kick all the appliances; scream at them for not working and causing me great inconvenience by their rebellious and uncooperative spirit. No, that’s not my attitude or solution. I don’t berate an appliance for a power outage it has no control over. In the same way we often get frustrated with ourselves and others causing untold grief and discouragement when we fail to check the power supply first! While we don’t have control over a power outage we do have control over whether we are plugged in or not. When we feel powerless or overwhelmed the learning is to check the plug first rather that rationalize why nothing is working in me and through me. The learning is that only Jesus can produce life-changing fruit in me.
Loving the learning means always starting with nurturing the relationship that Jesus invites us to enter into with himself and his Father. They’re more than willing to help us grow and empower us to enter into possibilities we’d never imagine if we insist on remaining self-reliant. Life in the Kingdom is the total opposite of life on earth without God’s presence. Life on earth looks like our houses without an external power source. We’re still rubbing sticks together and making do; we don’t know that electric power is available and therefore have no comprehension of what is possible.
When we first begin a relationship with Jesus it’s similar to having our house wired for the first time and flicking on the power switch. For the rest of our lives we are learning how to live as a sons andreleased in us is as radical and as real as access to unlimited electricity. Once the discovery is made then the learning becomes an exciting adventure of how to harness this gift. The ‘struggle in our learning’ is that things are done differently, change is required, unlearning is normal, practice is the routine, and far more effectiveness and fruitfulness is the anticipated outcome.
If we can recognize the principle through the use of metaphors like this then perhaps we will appreciate why relationship with Jesus is so crucial. It will help us understand why learning is lifelong, why gathering together and mutual encouragement is our lifeblood, and why so many who still are rubbing sticks together need us to share about the transformation Jesus brings when he rides into our lives with his hydro truck. Lighten up….. and let the Him shine !!! 🙂