Recently, in a conversation about spiritual disciplines, someone said that she struggled to read the Bible. This is not uncommon, even among Christians, but what she said next about that struggle was stunning. She said that the Bible really wasn't the type of book she likes to read, but that since God requires her to read it, she's pretty sure He blesses whatever effort she puts into it. You know, when she has a minute or two to slog through it.
In other words, she knows what God requires of her, but it doesn't suit her style, so she's consoled herself by believing that God blesses her limited effort, even in the face of her own unwillingness. What this amounts to is a faith that does what God asks a mere fraction of the time and still calls itself blessed.
This faith is no faith, and this God is no God at all.
Try to expand this argument into other areas of living and two things happen: first, you run up against ridiculousness and second, you box yourself into godly living by pure logic.
In terms of ridiculousness, imagine trying to form your argument around something as simple as telling the truth. Use the same words you use for whatever spiritual discipline you don't think is your cup of tea, and see how that sounds. I know that God commands me to tell the truth, but truth really isn't my thing. I'm not very good at it. So every now and then, I try to tell the truth, and I think God rewards me for that. But in general, I'm just not good at truth, so I don't think God expects too much of it from me.
Uh, what? Nobody's going to try to lay out that argument legitimately. It can't be done. And yet, this is the very same logical progression we use with the spiritual disciplines that God has commanded of us to draw us closer to Him. Prayer isn't really my thing. So every now and then, I try to pray, and that's enough for God. That I try.
Again, that's not God. That's some trimmed-down, vapor-mist of a vision of God that you've created yourself to make you feel better about what you're doing anyway, but it's not God.
The second result of this argument is even more condemning, for it goes straight to the heart of who you are. Part of what we say when we conclude that God rewards us just for doing whatever we can manage to do is that He blesses us for doing these very things. The person to whom I referred at the beginning of this post said she believes God blesses her when she reads her Bible, even if it's just ten minutes once a month. Even if that's all she can muster to do.
Wouldn't that make you want to do more of whatever it is you're doing?
If you know that God blesses you when you read your Bible, even if you claim it's not your thing, even if you only read ten minutes a month, wouldn't that resulting blessing inspire you to read your Bible more often? If not, you're living a faith that settles, and heads up - faith never settles.
So the argument fails on two points - it's not God, and it's not faith.
This is why we have to be so careful about what we're willing to believe, about the lies we tell ourselves to make us feel better about our failures. It's not that reading the Bible or praying or tithing or whatever is not your thing; it's that you haven't made it your thing. And in not making it your thing, you haven't made faith your faith or God your God.
That's not blessed. It's broken.