“You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? (Galatians 5:7 NLT)
God has given me a heart for discipleship. It’s thrilling to watch God’s life grow in a new believer, especially when I know how much of a struggle it’s been for them to change direction in their life. It takes discipline and determination to be a Jesus follower, just as it takes effort to make a marriage work, or any relationship for that matter.
What’s disappointing is when someone in whom you have high hopes, it seems they have everything going for them, then suddenly, they’re off the grid. You call, text, email, inquire with family or friends, but it’s like they’ve disappeared.
One man I discipled really touched my heart. I grew to love and appreciate him and thought we were getting close. I met his wife and he and I worshipped together at church and just the two of us. Though he’d been addicted to drugs, he went through rehab and was making what I thought to be a sincere effort to put that life behind him. We met regularly and he told me often how much that meant to him. Then one day – poof! Gone.
What happened? In the verse above, Paul made the observation that the Galatians were running their race so well, then asked: “Who has held you back from following the truth?” Did you see it? He didn’t ask “What” held you back. He asked “Who!”
It’s nearly impossible to blaze a new trial with your life and keep your old friends. Craig Groeschel wrote: “Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.” When I first came to the Lord, I reached out to one of my friends with whom I was close. Though he was not a good influence on me, I didn’t just want to never see or talk with him again. But when I told him I’d decided to become a Christian and invited him to church, he had no interest.
It’s rarely easy to walk in a new direction, that’s one of the reasons it’s better to come to Christ early in life. The longer we walk in sin, the more distractions we have when we turn to Christ. Bob Goff said: “We won’t be distracted by comparison if we are captivated with purpose.” Jesus IS that purpose that captivates our heart and mind.
Distractions come in many forms, but the most difficult from which to turn is a destructive habit. Why do so many people turn to alcohol or drugs? They lower inhibitions and/or numb the pain. The problem is that we never know what lies just under the surface in a person’s life. Like some whom I’ve sought to disciple, they’ve had issues in their past that they said were no longer a distraction, only to find they were.
Another issue which distracts people, that they want to keep hidden beneath the surface of their lives, is a lie they’ve come to believe. They believe that because Jesus has made appropriation for their every sin, and grace is God’s unmerited favor that allows us to find forgiveness and peace with God, that they can continue to live in sin, never growing or maturing in their faith, and God will be fine with that.
Paul wrote in Galatians 6:7-8: “Don’t be misled – you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.” Beware of what lies beneath. It can literally kill you.
Food for thought.
Blessings, Ed 😊