Glocal Series: Rediscovering Christ’s Sufficiency
I have always been more inclined to do rather than to be. When I am struggling with sin or am going through difficult seasons, I gravitate towards getting busy – serving the church body, planning get-togethers with community, reading Christian books – in hopes that these actions will bring me closer to God and help me overcome my sins. Although these things aren’t bad, more often than not all I’d get was a false sense of spiritual security from confusing activity with true intimacy with God.
For more than two years, I have been wrestling with the sin of idolizing a past relationship. It’s something that I’ve wanted to surrender to the Lord for a long time, only if I knew I would get it back eventually. After cycling through letting go with one hand while holding on with the other, it finally hit me that I didn’t want to be consumed by this anymore. I knew that my defiance to submit meant that I wasn’t following God wholeheartedly where He wanted to lead me, and that I couldn’t fully experience the joy that He wanted me to have through obeying Him. But I didn’t know how to do it. I didn’t have the strength or courage. I didn’t trust that it was worth giving up, because I thought my plan was better than His. As this idol grew, my affections for Christ waned.
Because of my tendency to take things into my own hands, I decided to fast during this Lenten season specifically with this in mind. I wanted to get rid of this idol completely, and I had hoped that fasting would help me renew and deepen my love for God and grow my trust in Him. But I realized that cutting out certain foods and forms of media from my daily life was not a magical solution to erase my sin and make me love and hunger for God more. He quickly reminded me that righteousness is a free gift from Him and not something that I can earn by my own efforts. Nothing done out of willpower alone can help me attain the victory over sin that I’ve wanted to see in my life. Spiritual disciplines such as fasting aren’t quick fixes to overcome sin and grow in holiness. Rather, they are a means of receiving grace by allowing us to place ourselves before God in humility and letting Him transform us. I cannot do it on my own strength. The only way to bear fruit is to abide in the vine (John 15:5) – and I can trust that there will be fruit, because that is His job and He cannot fail.
I still struggle with this sin of idolatry, among others. But I praise God because I am His beloved child, which means it’s not about what I do, but who and whose I am. I praise Him because He is relentless in His pursuit of my wandering heart and He’s not going to leave me here in my sin. God will finish what He has started in me (Philippians 1:6). I praise Him because I was created to worship Him and Him alone, and He is the one who will get me there. I praise Him because He declared me righteous the moment I chose to follow Him, and He lovingly invites me to walk with Him daily towards maturity and holiness.
My prayer is that our eyes will always be fixed on Jesus Christ. Instead of trying to sanctify ourselves by our own strength, let us first draw near to Him and let Him transform us. May we be a church that approaches His throne of grace in boldness, sincerity and faith, trusting that He who invites us to abide in Him will meet us and work in us “both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). May we be a church who doesn’t dwell in passivity, but whose actions and words flow out of who we are – no longer slaves to our sin, but children of God who have been set free.
By Joycelin Wong