I have no idea how it happened, except that sometime during last week — a week which was plagued by unproductivity, a curse worth than death for someone of my particular mindset — I realised that my desire to write blog posts here had turned into something of a legalistic “should”. That I ”should” write because if I didn’t, it would prove that I wasn’t making any progress. That I ”should” write another post because I hadn’t in <insert number of days>. This blog was becoming a burden, and subsequently undermining any chance I have of actually continuing to seek God.
Over the time of writing this blog, I have found that John Piper’s ‘What Jesus Demands from the World‘ has not demanded as much from me as other books I’ve been reading. That is not to say that the book is not challenging me, but rather, I do not reach the end of every chapter feeling as if I now have to incorporate a new lesson, and subsequently that means I do not need to write a new blog post.
I doubt that will change, given the nature of the book, but yesterday’s quiet time reading re-awoke in me some recently-lost knowledge.
“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
As I read that verse in Demand #23 of Piper’s book – Strive to Enter Through the Narrow Door, for Jesus Fulfills the New Covenant — I was released of the pressures I had placed upon myself in writing this blog and the underlying need for this blog, my desire to re-seek God’s will in my life. It was as if a massive weight had been lifted from my shoulders, and I could breathe again.
As has been made clear again and again through books too numerous to count, the Christian life is not an easy one. We are to strive for the narrow door, the narrow path, the hard path. This has never been far from my mind lately, and it is not something I quibble with. I have accepted it.
What I failed to accept with it was a point Piper makes that I had never really considered. Piper writes:
What makes the demands of Jesus to strive and to be vigilant seem burdensome is the assumption that we are left to ourselves. Our natural tendency is to think that if Jesus tells us to do something and makes this a condition for entering the kingdom of God and having eternal life, he will then stand back and merely watch to see if we will do it. We do not naturally think that if he demands something, he will enable us to do it.
All that Piper had said beforehand was suddenly made easy and almost-irrelevant in the fact of the promise that Jesus did not expect me to manage on my own.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.”
How easily this could make us despair, if we think that Jesus is not standing alongside us. We are to be watchful (Matthew 24:42, 25:13), we are to endure (Matthew 24:12-13) and we are not to look back (Luke 17:32).
As Piper concludes the chapter, he similarly concludes my worry, by saying;
We are not left to ourselves in our striving. The command to strive is the command to experience the powerful striving of God on our behalf in fulfillment of his new-covenant promise to cause us to walk in his statutes (Ezek. 36:27).