My wife and I recently moved house. We packed our lives into boxes to move them across the city of Edinburgh, Scotland. I’ll be honest, the same effort goes into moving country as it does moving house! But now we’re a the stage of buying furniture. I spent this evening with my wife and a couple friends building garden furniture. It was similar to the IKEA furniture. Each pole was labelled. Each screw had a number and following the instructions was relatively easy. But it got me thinking…
Often Christians think that holiness and discipleship are like assembling furniture from IKEA (or similar step by step stuff). It’s easy to think that once you have pieces 1 and 3 that you can connect them with number 2 and you have a fully functioning Christian who is free from all burdens of the past and current struggles. But that just simply isn’t true!
The Bible doesn’t give you a contents list of all the parts that make up a Christian and it doesn’t give you a system of ‘do this then that will happen’. Instead the Bible give you the desired outcomes of the life of a Christian and the ability to get there. However, contrary to a 1,2,3 approach, the Bible calls for dependance on the Lord, a desire and surrender to the Holy Spirit for change and an utter dependance on the completed work of Christ on the cross.
Why do Christians want the IKEA approach to holiness and discipleship? Because it is easier. It’s easy to be given exact steps to follow, but life is much more complicated than that. In life we’re called to make daily (or sometimes more frequent) decisions that point us to and make us more like Jesus. That means that there will be different decisions and difficult choices every day. Christians should wake up daily and pray “Lord, make me more like you today. Help me live the life you have called me to live”.
You won’t be given the 1,2,3 instructions of the Christian Life in order to grow in holiness and discipleship, but you have been given God’s Word. The Word that tells you what the Lord wants from you. The Word that give you hope to reach that through the power of the Holy Spirit. But ultimately the Word that points you to the completed work of the risen and reigning Jesus who has made it possible for you to be reconciled with a holy God. You don’t need IKEA-like instructions, you just need to rely on the work of the Spirit to transform your life.
And when you fail, because you will (we all do!), know that there is sufficient grace for you. When you feel like all you do is fall and sin, run to Christ in your pain and cling to his completed work that you do not deserve. Run to Jesus, because it is only through his work that you can be saved. You can have all the instructions int he world, but if you don’t have Jesus you don’t have anything.