About a month ago a sweet sister in the faith, who has walked with Jesus as long as I have been alive, blurted out these words I didn't expect to ever here from her. “I was born this way ok? Stop trying to make me like you!” While the intensity of her confession caught me off guard, the truth is that I can actually relate. I was born this way too! Since my earliest memory, doing the right thing has not been my natural instinct. Putting others first? Ignoring my wants? This definitely does not come natural to me. MINE! NO! Those are words that you don't have to teach to your children.
You know what comes natural to me? Feeding my flesh. Literally and figuratively. Let me explain.
When I see someone running down the road, arms pumping, just looking fit, I think, I am going running when I get home. But as I walk through the door and see a tin of brownies, I think, maybe I'll run tomorrow.
When I hear someone speaking in Spanish, I remember, “Oh, I should really finish that course I started.” Yet when the house is quiet, and those CD's are staring at me, sitting in front of the TV to “veg out” seems like the more viable option.
When I see a romantic movie, I think of how much I love my husband, but when he doesn't meet my expectations, my reaction is not naturally love.
If you look at my life, my personality, my temperament, a lot of what you see now, has always been this way. I love to talk. (didn't work out so well in school.) I struggle keeping things in order (ask my mom) I am careless with important papers (I still have nightmares about Mrs. Olson interrogating me in 3rd grade about getting that test signed) and on and on.
I struggle. But my struggles are not the same as other peoples struggles, namely this friend. In fact, that was her point. She was indignant at my suggestion that maybe perfectionism wasn't always her best option. You see, I am the laid back one, and she can be...a little....uptight. No, she argued. My suggestion that she could relax a little once and a while was unrealistic. This is who she is, and I just need to accept it. The problem is, however, that I can't find that concept anywhere in scripture. When Paul struggled with his flesh, at no point did he concede, “I was born this way. Oh well.”
The reality is that we are at war. Spirit vs. Flesh. God has given us certain gifts, certain propensities that if used according to His guidelines become a beautiful part of who we are. The predicament is that we have also inherited a sin nature which includes inclinations that go against his perfect plan. I have my dad's Irish temper. So what do I do with that? Throw my hands up and say, Baby I was born this way? What about my critical nature? What about my pride?
Sadly I could go on and on with the list of sins that come natural to me. But at no point is that an excuse. The Bible tells a different story then one of concession. It is not a life filled with ease but one of struggling against principalities and powers, running a race, looking ahead for the joy that waits, picking up our cross, denying our flesh. This is our destiny. Jesus wants to redeem every part of our life. Every facet of our personality. Every inclination in our soul. Everything.
But how? How do we determine what stays and what goes? The answer is simple but becoming more and more controversial.
Bottom line: The Bible is our final authority.
The idea that we are equipped to simply determine right and wrong on our own is just, well, not that simple.
Take a look around for proof if you need it.
“Do what makes you happy,” is how the world determines what is right for our post modern society. "As long as you don't hurt anyone," they add. Such nonsense, and nobody follows it. Because it's nearly impossible.
Example: My friend cheated on and left his wife. He is "happy." Right or wrong?
How many people can you devastate and still be considered right, as long as you are happy?
Do what feels right. Except we live in a sick society. Our hearts are wicked, not good. Doing what feels right is dangerous. So how do we choose what stays and what goes? It has to be God's Word. In it are the words of life. This is not a 2000 year old book of letters. It is living and active. It is tried and tested. It has been surveyed and scrutinized. Don't take my word for it. Study for yourselves.
Here's why. I am glad, so glad, that I am not entirely who I once was when I was born. I am grateful for the patience of friends and loved ones that forgive me over and over and struggle with me as we work out our own salvation. And it's cliché, but it's true- I am most thankful for a God that loves me just as I am, but also loves me too much to let me stay that way, even if that's how I was born.