I’m a total weirdo. I’ll be the first to admit it and for the most part I’m more than okay with it. There are lots of things about me that make me weird. The whole anxiety thing makes me super weird and socially awkward. It totally screws with my life and I’m not okay with that. I’m a work in progress there. But there are many choices I’ve made on purpose for my life that may make me weird to others. There is no need to list them because if you know me, you can probably name few! Robby and I have also made choices for our family that may be unusual to some. We’ll probably continue to make them as life goes on. Those are the things I’m good with. We kind of like being weird. We’ll be the weird people and own it!
Going against the grain is often a good thing in the life of a believer, right? The Bible talks about the wide and narrow gate. Many enter through the wide gate and the Bible says it’s an easy gate to enter. But that wide gate, it leads destruction. That must mean that the narrow gate is where fewer enter and the journey is more difficult. Yet, the narrow gate leads to eternal life. Well, that flies in the face of the prosperity gospel, right? Most would agree with me that we need to avoid the wide path, right? The believer will because she has been made new, and therefore puts to death, “sexual immorality, impurity, evil desires, covetousness, which is idolatry, anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk, lying to one another.” These things from Colossians 3 are pretty cut and dry, black and white. But what about other things that aren’t so black and white in our life? Do we only stick to the exact written word (Thou shall not…) and everything else is fair game?
I can’t give you a specific list of those types of things because I could never exhaust it. We’re talking about things that aren’t morally wrong… hobbies, friendships, ideas, charities, activities, movies, music, food, places and so on. What I can say from experience is that sanctification will cause us to also stop doing things that aren’t on the black and white list. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that sanctification is “a continuing change worked by God in us, freeing us from sinful habits and forming us in Christlike affections, dispositions and virtues.” Sanctification includes putting away things that hinder our affections for Christ, even if they aren’t morally wrong. This is all part of growing in holiness. We are called to pursue holiness.
I came across this quote in Recovering Redemption that describes this kind of sanctification work, “The only healthy sin is dead sin… Scripture can help us outline a whole lot of things in our lives that are only good for being yanked up and being burned in our back yard. Open and shut. Cut and dry. Black and white. But you’re also likely to find, as you keep maturing in the faith and growing deeper into the sanctification process, that God’s Spirit will increasingly alert you to certain habits and hobbies, that — even though they are not morally wrong — are still personally detrimental to your own heart…. For whatever reason — for you — there’s just a noticeable drag in your zeal for Christ that slips in when you do these things or play around with these things or get into the vicinity of these things. Participating in it just always ignites some old feelings that compete with your purity and take the edge off your spiritual desire. And so there’s often wisdom in mortifying that particular distraction — whatever it is — in order to keep your heart vivacious in following hard after the Lord.”
Yes, in order to keep your heart vivacious for the Lord. Isn’t that the desire of our hearts?
I know when God saved me 15 years ago and began working on my heart, relationships were some of the first to go. I wasn’t the same person and so I didn’t mesh with the same close friends anymore. I can remember it being hard. It was a very lonely time but it was a huge time of growth in my faith. God was growing my affections for Him. As I’ve continued in my relationship with Jesus, I’ve laid aside other things. It’s a constant in my life that won’t end until I’m with Christ.
It’s remarkable and beautiful really, that God would save me and keep me. He’s made me new and is making me new. Sanctification is hard sometimes but it’s the very work of God in our lives. And that is a glorious thing to behold! My encouragement to you (and myself) is to pursue holiness. Seek things that encourage purity and holiness. Keep a watchful eye on the various parts of your life and put away anything that lessons your affections for Christ, even if it makes you weird. Christ is always worth it.