This week (February 26) in our Worship Gathering we looked at God’s conversation with the young King Solomon, recorded in the Old Testament book of 1 Kings, chapter 3. We specifically focused on God commanding Solomon to walk with Him in “integrity of heart and uprightness” and to “obey his commands and keep his decrees.”
How do we become a person of integrity and obedience without wearing ourselves out? The first step is to understand that we can’t not on our effort alone. We cannot do it apart from grace, no matter what we think about it. Some people learn this lesson early; for others, it takes years, or decades, or even a lifetime. Only those who come to the “end of themselves” – meaning, their attempts to make life “happen” or be “fulfilling” from their own efforts alone simply leaves them empty.
God’s grace is the only adequate “fuel” for the Flourishing Life. Only by grabbing hold of what Christ did for us is it possible. None of us can naturally meet God’s demands. So, we begin the God-life by trusting Christ with our lives, and in so doing, we take on his righteousness as God’s Spirit comes to dwell in our souls.
Once God’s grace becomes real and alive in our lives, we are now ready to take next steps in learning to walk in it. This requires our cooperation – our effort, if you will. Remember, God’s grace is not opposed to effort, only to earning. There is no magic or secret formula for walking the grace-filled, Spirit-empowered life. It is essentially a matter of learning to exchange our lives – our affections, our thinking, our will, our plans and ambitions for His. This exchange may feel like a death of sorts at first because it is.
Jesus was very clear about the need to “die” to the self (see Luke 9:23 in the New Testament). But what we gain in the exchange is true life that has its source in heaven, and this life has a power and a freedom that surpasses anything we can dream or scheme ourselves.
Yesterday I mentioned two core practices that will help us cultivate becoming a person of integrity and obedience. The first is to Get Alone with God in Solitude and Silence. The second is to Get Together with Others in Worship and Learning. These exercises can be entered by anyone right away; you do not have to be particularly experienced or skilled to do so. And, if you are new or feel like a novice in the spiritual life, the Rock Hill community is full of Christ-followers willing to help you begin practicing them. You will find these folks in our Common Life Communities. I hope you will seek them out and ask your questions and share your struggles. There is nothing wrong with being a novice, but you will likely remain one if you don’t reach out for help. I encourage you to do so.