The Coasting Zone

Neil Girrard
Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
Mt. 6:24 π Mt. 25:41 π Jn. 15:19 π Jn. 17:14-15 π 2 Cor. 5:21 π Gal. 3:3 π Eph. 2:2-3 π Phlp. 3:8-16 π Phlp. 3:9 π 2 Tim. 2:5 π 2 Tim. 4:7 π Heb. 12:1-2 π 1 Pet. 2:11 π 2 Pet. 3:7

There would seem to be a tendency among many of us that bears some examination. And the first reaction - indeed almost always a too quick reaction - when we first hear this idea presented to us is to say, "Not me - I know I haven't arrived!" Yet our actions and manners exude evidence that this truly is our underlying presupposition. It remains a truth that actions still speak louder than words. If you cannot set aside this too-quick reaction and quietly and thoroughly and patiently examine yourself before the Lord on this question, you can know that you are among the very ones to whom this question applies - you can know with almost complete certainty that your too-quick reaction, coupled with your inability or refusal to examine this question before God, means that your knee-jerk reaction is only a cover-up for this very attitude. I strongly encourage you to press on and find out just what might have gotten swept under this rug!

Paul wrote:

"But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Therefore, let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in any thing you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind." ( Phlp. 3:8-16; top )

As one passes the midpoint of a footrace, it is time to reach deeper into one's self and pull out more energy, more determination, more strength and run harder and faster. Why? Because the other guys are doing that very same thing and are trying to get in front so as to win the race. In a race, those who are left behind do not win the prize. Paul compared the Christian life to a race in his letter to Timothy. ( 2 Tim. 2:5 ) even saying that, now that his death was only minutes or days away, he had "finished the race." ( 2 Tim. 4:7; top )

When a Hindu or Muslim or Voodoo high priest or animalistic tribesman comes to know Christ, it is inherently understood that he must reject his culture and his heritage to receive Christ and stand in Him. But when a westernized "Christian," born into a so-called "Christian" nation, comes to know Christ, no such requirement is seen to be upon that one. Even though western civilization has given the world pornographic movies, angry and rebellious music (that just as often is mere noise and pounding rhythm), decadently wasteful spending in a self-centered lifestyle, education that leaves one's spirit and soul hungry after long years of study, government that causes more problems than it solves and a mindset that is progressively antagonistic to life and godliness, few seem to see any need for the true follower of Christ to reject the culture. Those few who throw out their television are weird extremists. Those who want to home school their children are fanatics. Those who are dissatisfied with carnal and worldly "church" practices (including its house "church" imitators) are too negative, just radicals to be avoided and feared. Those who want to simply live quiet lives for the Lord loving those they come into contact with or those who simply cannot remain silent in the face of such lawlessness and unrighteousness are now the ones who have an agenda that must be stopped. But no reason is seen (by many, perhaps even most, who claim to belong to Christ) to be separate and different from this culture.

The true follower and disciple of Christ Jesus is to be a pilgrim in this world. Peter wrote, "Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul," ( 1 Pet. 2:11 ) and Jesus prayed that His followers would remain in the world but be kept from the evil one even as the world expressed the devil's hatred for Christ upon His followers. ( Jn. 17:14-15 ) Jesus also said, "If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." ( Jn. 15:19; top )

The true follower and disciple of Christ does not fit into this world easily. Because he will not participate in the darkness of this world, both men and demons hate him and persecute him for no reason other than that he is light. But many people, content with mere "church" attendance or fuzzy mush-God theology (a "God" that allows them to do just about anything they want, any way they want at any time they want), fail to see how the way they live their lives is in no significant way different from any other worldling. They see no problem with collecting all this world's goods and toys that they want, gratifying all the lusts of their flesh as best they're able, and still giving God his small percentage too so that they might be eligible for those "seed blessings"! What an abomination all this is to God! If this were just a small minority, or if there were not more subtle elements and strains of this tendency that have permeated into our own lives, it would not be a matter worth considering. We could just pass over this question and leave it untouched.

But there is that deeply hidden attitude in the heart that says "I'm okay where I'm at." Some even claim to walk in "the righteousness of God that is by faith in Christ" ( Phlp. 3:9 ) but their claims to be "the righteousness of God" ( 2 Cor. 5:21; top ) resound with haughtiness and arrogance and their actions and lifestyle do not reflect the righteous standards and holy nature of God. Again, if this haughtiness and arrogance were limited to only a few or there were not more subtle elements and strains of this attitude that has wormed its way into our own hearts, we could just move on. But this attitude, in its more subtle forms, still comes across as an "I've arrived" attitude that, when even lightly discussed or confronted, is immediately (as noted at the beginning of this article, too often too immediately) rejected because we know, deep in our hearts and spirits, that, like Paul says, we have not attained to the resurrection from the dead nor the righteousness that is God. We know we still struggle against the flesh and that we will do so until our own physical death is imminently upon us. Those whose simplistic theologies tell them otherwise are only deluding themselves at this point. These have only adopted the "I'm okay where I'm at" attitude and changed it into a theology.

If we are truly pressing on in the things of the Lord and truly forgetting all that is behind, then there is an element of truth in feeling that I'm okay where I'm at - at least for the moment. We cannot turn the pressing on toward the upward call of the Lord into a striving of the flesh and hope to finish in the Spirit. ( Gal. 3:3; top ) We must rest in the work the Lord has done in us up to this point and be content with what we have been given for the day. Yet this rest and content is not a resting on our laurels or a place where we can now coast over the finish line of our lives. No this contentment with where I am today is a only a momentary breather, a taking of a deep breath so as to be able to press on toward the Lord tomorrow or in the next moment. We must ever draw deeper into Christ, drawing our strength from Him and selflessly expending that strength on Him and others as we move into the last stages of our race toward Him.

Paul wrote,

" once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others." ( Eph. 2:2-3; top )

This world is destined to be destroyed by fire. ( 2 Pet. 3:7 ) The devil and his angels and all those who follow his ways are destined to be thrown into the lake of fire for eternity. ( Mt. 25:41 ) By what foolishness can we believe that we can partake of the things of this world and of the deceptions of the devil and still be "on our way to heaven"? By what madness can we think that we can serve both mammon and God? (see Mt. 6:24; top ) When the "church's" "gospel" doesn't give young girls enough hope to keep them from being snared by Muslim men, when the Muslim faith offers more power to control life (or at least to feel like one is in control of one's life) and thus gains more converts than does modern churchianity, we ought to be able to see that something is very wrong with what we have become. But few do see our culture as the city of destruction from which we must flee or be destroyed along with it. The few that do lament the status of our nation and this world most often fail to see how deep the "rabbit hole" goes and still retain the "I'm okay where I'm at" mentality as if the way they are is not part of the problems of the nation and the world. This is spiritual insanity.

There is nothing wrong with God's laws and holy requirements on our lives. I am the problem. Self is the problem of the world - and self has been unleashed and unrestrained by the philosophies of the world for hundreds of years now! We are only reaping the consequences of centuries of disobedience to God and we do not readily acknowledge just how deep the influences of centuries of self's progressive unleashing go in my life. Advertising enflames the lusts of the flesh and the desires of the mind - constant exposure to repeated advertising turns the lusts of the flesh and the desires of the mind into an acceptable way of life. "Fourteen thousand repetitions makes a truth" (Brave New World, Aldous Huxley) has become a reality in television and marketing strategies.

Let us proceed with the subconscious "I'm okay where I'm at" mindset at our own risk. A.W. Tozer's statement that "all is wrong until God makes it right" is a better vantage point to view the world but few will find that high ground. Let us heed the writer of Hebrews' instruction:

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." ( Heb. 12:1-2; top )

What we look at most will change what we desire and what we think is important. Let us look always and only to Jesus and the things of this world will grow increasingly less important and less pressing and the things of eternity will grow increasingly more important and more pressing. Then we will see the kingdom of heaven established in our midst and the will of God done on earth as it is routinely done in heaven - and we should remember that it was the will of God that Christ Jesus went to the cross and not be surprised when our life takes a similar turn! While we continue to look on the things of this world with desire and pleasure, we can only expect to participate in its darkness and destruction and, at least in our own minds, we will be quite "okay where we're at."

Let he who has ears hear.

I'd love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!

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