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Overcoming Spiritual Paralysis

Overcoming Spiritual Paralysis

Lately, God has been reminding me of my own weakness. I cannot do any good in this world except by God’s help. I’ve been trying to follow the plans He has revealed for my life, but I keep getting overwhelmed by all of the things I am supposed to be. It seems like every day, I am discovering a new commandment I am failing to live up to. If I’m honest, I’m living a small life because I’m afraid of failure. I put way too much stock in my own actions, and I forget that the battle has already been won.

But why am I afraid of failure? God is judging me based on His own merit, not mine. If I succeed, it is for His glory. If I fail, it is a reminder of His grace. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Rm. 8:1-2) If there is no condemnation, then fear has no place in my life anymore. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

The burden of the Law

If you pick up a Bible and begin reading from Genesis 1, you may notice the abundance of rules. There are an estimated 613 commandments in the first five books of the Bible alone. By the time Jesus arrived on the scene, there were groups of the religious elite who made a full-time job out of trying to keep all of the thousand-plus laws that they had at the time. One would expect Jesus to give them a pat on the back for doing such a great job, but He did the exact opposite. After condemning them for being hollow and shallow, Jesus pulled the noose even tighter. It doesn’t matter if you actually commit adultery, you are a unholy sinner if you let your eyes wander for a second! Can you imagine the despair on the faces of the crowd when they heard this? Their best was horribly insufficient.

The point is, and has always been, that we cannot keep the law on our own. The law isn’t just here to enhance our lives, it’s here to show us the extent of our need. The Law exitst to point us to a Saviour. Jesus kept the law to its fullest extent, and He suffered the fate of the worst of criminals so we who can’t keep it for even a day will be treated like someone who never once faltered.

Are we moving backwards?

It seems to me that we’ve returned to the exact same spot the Pharisees were in so many years ago. Our churches are filled with people who want to (or at least pretend to want to) keep the law, but we know deep down that it is impossible. I have, on more than one occasion, suffered paralysis on the light of the law. There are so many things a Christian is called to be. Am I feeding the poor, visiting the sick and prisoners, sharing the Gospel on the streets, being generous with my wealth, putting all others before myself and putting God above all? No. I will never get off the ground if I try to be all things at all times to all people. But God gave us a few secret weapons to help us overcome paralysis.

If we are the body…

The first thing that God gave us is each other. In the past few months, I have come to realize that I can’t be all things at all times to all people (I know, #thickskullproblems). The revelation came through my small group when we got together to buy Thanksgiving meals for families in need. I couldn’t spare a dime that month, but my friends were able to. We all contributed what we could, and God did great things with it. What would happen if I started reading the Bible as God’s letter to His church, not just to me? All of a sudden it becomes manageable. I’ll take the call to proclaim His name, you look after the prisoners, and our other friend can be an advocate for the oppressed. We were called to be the body of Christ, parts in a whole. How foolish have I been for assuming I can be God’s hands and feet all by myself!

God told me to write, and that’s what I’m going to do. I will send my money with those who have taken a different call. I will continue to meet with the Body of Christ regularly to see if we are forgetting something. We won’t be perfect, but we can do much more together than any of us could ever do alone. I recently told a partner in ministry about my plans to transition elsewhere. With incredible wisdom, she replied, “Of course, serve where you feel called. There’s no guilt, only joy!”

The strength of Christ

I would be remiss if I talked about the Body of Christ without mentioning the head. Many of us are so caught up with the worries of this life that we don’t have any time left to think about ministry. We must take our cares to the foot of the Cross. The Law isn’t about rules anymore. Jesus proved to us that we can’t keep the rules, and then He provided a better way.

The apostle Peter told us that angels never tire of looking into the Gospel. How can I? When I fully understand the Gospel, the law will become irrelevant. In Galatians 2, Paul tells the story of Peter acting hypocritically. Instead of quoting the law (which he knew better than any of us), Paul asked Peter to think out the implications of the Gospel. He reminded Peter that if Christ died for all, then there is no superiority among us, and therefore no ground for racial discrimination. If we look for Jesus on every page of the Scriptures, we will begin to find a story that is deeper and more wonderful than we could have imagined. The only response will be to obey with joy.

I am just beginning to experience the joy of God’s calling over me. I’m sure that there will be many failures along the way. But when we fix our eyes on Christ, we don’t have to measure ourselves by our success or failures. Work just becomes work, and ministry just becomes ministry. It’s all an offering of praise to Jesus who did the only truly great work on our behalf. Perfect love casts out all fear, so let us seek to understand the great love He has for us, and let us live out of that love.

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