Desire Or Duty
A FEW MONTHS AGO I ATTENDED A WORSHIP EVENT IN AUSTIN, TEXAS. I HAD GONE TO THE SAME EVENT THE YEAR BEFORE AND WAS IMMERSED IN THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD AND CHALLENGED TO A CLOSER WALK WITH HIM. THIS YEAR THE FIRST FEW HOURS WERE DIFFERENT. I SAT IN THE AUDIENCE AS AN OBSERVER, HESITANT TO PARTICIPATE AS MY MIND RACED IN A THOUSAND DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS.
I BEGAN TO EVALUATE MY RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST AND REALIZED MY HEART HAD GROWN COLD. WHILE I STILL WENT TO CHURCH EVERY WEEK, PRAYED, AND READ DEVOTIONALS AND MY BIBLE, I HAD LITTLE DESIRE FOR GOD. THIS REALIZATION SHOOK ME AS I KNEW IT DID NOT PLEASE THE LORD AND I WANTED MORE—MORE OF HIM, MORE SATISFACTION, MORE JOY, MORE MEANING OUT OF LIFE. AS I TOOK INVENTORY OF MY LIFE THE FACTS WERE CLEAR—I DID ALMOST EVERYTHING FROM A SENSE OF DUTY. MY MARRIAGE, MY CHILDREN, MY CHURCH ATTENDANCE—I DID WHAT I THOUGHT WAS REQUIRED OF ME AND LITTLE MORE.
As I sat surrounded by anointed musicians and passionate worship-pers, I asked God to forgive me. With an earnest plea, I asked Him to awaken desire in me for Him, for my family, for ministry, for His people, for His ways. I searched for books with the words “Duty vs. Desire” and wouldn’t you know it—a classic written in the ‘80scame up in my search—Desiring God by John Piper. The title sounded familiar, I knew the author, and after read- ing the sample chapter, I knew it was a book I needed in the moment.
After the first worship set, ToddWhite took the stage. As he began to share His great love for the Father, I wept. His passion and conviction were contagious. He was and has been on fire for God since his salvation 14 years ago. He doesn’t stay that way through passive living, however. Todd White pursues God passionately from a desire that has been stoked day after day, year after year. Desire for God doesn’t come from feeding the flesh. It doesn’t come from living as close to the world as possible. It comes through an intentional determination to ignore the wants of the flesh and the cries of the soul, and a laser-like focus on the things of the spirit.
We’ve been rocked to sleep by the serenade of hyper-grace, unaware that grace is the power given to us to live Christ like, not a catch all excuse to avoid holiness. While salvation is instant, sanctification is a process, one that continues throughout our lives until we are transformed into the image of Christ. The Word is clear that Christ will one day return for His bride, the church—a bride without spot or wrinkle—not a bride that looks for every opportunity to get by, to cuss a little, to walk so close to the world it’s hard to tell the difference, but a bride dressed in white, saved by grace through faith, sanctified, holy (set apart for a special purpose), through the daily encounters with God and His Word.
Much of the world can quote John 3:16, but do we know John 3:36? It says, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life. But whoever disobeys (is unbelieving toward, refuses to trust in, disregards, is not subject to) the Son will never see (experience) life, but the wrath of God abides on him [God’s displeasure remains on him; His indignation hangsover him continually]” (AMPC). Pause, and calmly think about that verse. If we don’t obey Christ, if we don’t submit to Him, the wrath of God comes upon us.
I challenge us today to submit to God daily by carving out time in our busy schedules to meet Him in the secret place. We cannot be transformed into His image without time spent with Him. We cannot develop desire for Him all on our own. Piper says it this way, “Not to enjoy God is to dishonor Him. To say to Him that something else satisfies you more is the opposite of worship. It is sacrilege.”