Romans 7:15. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
We all started out as Christians so well didn’t we? Bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to just soak in God’s love forever. We were motivated by deep gratitude for God’s grace and deep love for Jesus. We were going to change the world. We were on fire. We had big plans. And then….
I read an enlightening article yesterday from The Guardian written by Juliana Piskorz – Me and My Quarter Life Crisis (warning there is some strong language). It really gives good insight into the hearts and minds of the Millennial generation and Generation Z. She describes the depression that comes from not being able to live up to your own self expectations, much less the expectations of the generations that went before. She describes the “laws” of adulthood (career, home, family) and how these are now standards nearly impossible to achieve. She talks about her grandmother’s unwavering faith in God, and how her generation has placed their faith in their jobs and this has left them disillusioned because there’s always a better job out there. In the end Piskorz says her generation has adopted an attitude of just not caring anymore (her language is much stronger). I felt like I was reading a secular modern translation of Romans 7. “I know where I should be and what I should be doing, but I can’t do it. So I quit.”
Maybe you feel this way about your life. Maybe you feel this way about your Christian life. Maybe it’s crashing like in Romans 7:15 above. You know what you want to do, but you don’t do it. Instead you do what you hate.
For us as Christians this may be because over time the gratitude motivation and even the love (and here I mean love as a feeling) motivation can’t actually sustain us. For Paul the real motivation for the Christian life is faith. Resolutions and vows flow from gratitude, and sometimes guilt, but this is the flesh. Faith in our new identity is what sustains us. Faith in our position in Christ is what motivates us. This is what “to live is Christ” is all about. Finding the life motive and allowing it to replace the gratitude and the love motive. The life motive is rooted in fact; the gratitude motive is rooted in feeling alone. Gratitude and resolutions and consecrations and re-dedications are not the cross. Our faith must be in the work of the cross alone. Our death to sin and the law. The flesh only responds to the cross, not your new commitments or self effort.
There is a better motivation. It is faith. It is faith in the life of Christ that indwells you.