All over the world people are making resolutions and promises, setting new goals and hopes for self-improvement. Hopefully everybody can realize that growth and change are needed by us all. Certainly, the Gospel of the Kingdom is about change!
But how one attempts the changes is very critical. Hear Oswald Chambers on this subject:
“All our vows and resolutions end in denial because we have no power to carry them out.” (My Utmost for His Highest, Jan. 5)
Someone might disagree with Chamber’s statement that, “we have no power to carry them out.” They can point to results and successes they’ve had. Others can readily identify with Oswald’s statement. In the same essay Chamber’s spoke about when Christ first called Peter to follow Him. He suggests that Peter quickly launched out to follow Jesus because, “the fascination of Jesus was upon him.” But fascination would not be sufficient to carry Peter through the heat of the day. When the troubles came, just as Jesus had predicted, Peter denied His Lord with oaths and curses.
So much for Peter’s earlier resolution based upon fascination.
Fascination is like a new fad. We see something cool, something creative, something with “spiritual” bling, and we think, “I want that. That must be awesome, it looks so cool. I’m going to go for that.” And we set out with real human energy. And if we can convince others that this is what they need too, we can actually pick up some real human momentum.
This is basic Madison Avenue philosophy.
And I am afraid that much of the energy and growth around American Christianity is little more than this. We would be wise to be very careful lest we confuse fascination with a new thing to become a substitute for God’s real transforming power. Peter was able to function in the human energy produced by fascination for more than three years. And who knows, if Christ had not allowed Satan to sift him, he might have stayed in that deception his entire life! That’s scary. Please don’t think any of us are incapable of being deceived in like manner.
After Peter’s big failure, he had a much more accurate and humble view of himself. No more would he dare to make big promises and big resolutions and ride the waves of human energy based upon fascination. He could no longer trust himself. Little did he know that this was a prerequisite to God’s real power! After Christ was crucified and risen from the dead He gave Peter another opportunity to follow Him. But this time it would not be based upon fascination. This time it would be based upon transformation. Peter’s trial had dealt a fatal blow to his self-assertiveness and selfish ambition and produced a sweet brokenness. Now God could trust him to really be “the Rock”.
Remember: Babel was built by the energy of fascinated people. Christ’s Church can only be built by Spirit-transformed people who have experienced the Cross of Christ.
(For a related essay, click here.)