Cease Striving

Cease Striving

Accomplishment.

This word drives our culture in many ways. In some ways, you’re only as good your best accomplishment. I know that in many parts of our world this is not the case, but when you look at the media what we see is a pretty clear testimony that our accomplishments define us.

Championship games, award shows, game shows, and even politics all point to what we have done and can do. It’s not hard to understand why, then, we strive to do. We want to succeed and to be recognized for our accomplishments. We have task managers and attend time management classes. We want to be able to do more and to do it better so that we can be the best. Your value is only in what you have done.

This is dangerous. This can make most of us normal people who don’t have accomplishments feel like we have no value in this world. Failures make us bad people and creating has no value if it is not rewarded. When it comes to following Jesus, measuring our value by accomplishments puts means that every failure makes us feel like we aren’t growing. Instead, we need to find value in who we are and not in what we do.

Through the lens of Tourist and Pilgrim spirituality, a tourist spirituality is all about accomplishment. It’s the places you’ve been and the things you done. If you’ve been to more places and done more things then you are more valuable in the kingdom of God. Tourists says look at all the places I’ve been, I am a great person. The pilgrim places value in being a pilgrim, not doing pilgrim things. It’s not about visiting the most attractions or having the most stamps in your book. It’s about being present in the journey with God and being faithful to be present to the journey.

We try so hard to do Christianity. We go to church, read our bibles, pray our prayers, give to the poor and write in our journals, but that’s not going to make us better people. One I’ve learned over the past year is that when God changes us and gives us new life, he gives us a new identity and a new way of being. Formation does not happen by  choosing to do good things, but instead it happens by being with God so that He can remake us into new Creations.

Robert Mulholland writes, “We live in a culture that has reversed the biblical order of being and doing. Being and doing are integrally related, to be sure, but we have to have the order straight. Our doing flows out of our being. In spiritual formation, the problem with being conformed is that we have a strong tendency to think that if only we do the right things we will be the right kind of Christian, as though our doing would bring about our being.” [1]

I don’t know about you, but I constantly seek value in what I do. I try to work my way into a better relationship with Jesus. Instead what God says to us is, “Be still and know that I am God.” My favorite translation of this verse is the NASB, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” God calls us to let him do the work of remaking us so that we can be the new person he wants us to be. As we let him do his work, then our being will begin to work itself out in our actions. As a follower of Christ, your value and worth is not found in your actions. If that’s the case, you’ll never do enough. Your value is in who you are as a child of God. The father is pleased with us because we are his children, be his child.

Be still, cease striving, and know that He is God.

[1] M. Robert Mulholland Jr., Invitation to a Journey (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL 1993).

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