Today, I want to wade into a complex theological topic in about 500 words. Trying to explain desires, disconnect and why we don’t act how we should.
Here is the truth: Many of us want to live differently, but we struggle. We want to be more like Jesus, but find ourselves not living like Him. We want to be holy or righteous (to use more traditional language), but we find ourselves doing things we don’t want to do.
Paul puts it this way, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” (Romans 7:15) So, it seems like it isn’t just us that struggle with it, but also Paul.
Here is a controversial, but true thing: The solution to this problem isn’t more knowledge or more information. Yet, this is precisely what we gravitate to when we or someone else is struggling. We try to give them more information or we listen to more sermons about “How to Change Our Lives” and decide to “try harder.” And, I’m not saying that information or sermons are bad (clearly it’s my job!), but if deciding to try harder and gaining information led directly to transformation, we would be the most transformed and healthy society with all our information
The truth is, when we encounter a gap between what we know and how we live, the problem isn’t with the knowledge. The problem is with our desires.
Jamie Smith puts it this way, “It seems we can’t think our way to holiness.”
I cannot love this quote more. It’s so simple, yet also so true. We cannot think our way to holiness. We cannot decide our way to righteousness. Because, the disconnect in our actions is not with our intellect, but with our hearts. Because our hearts are following desires that lead us away from Jesus, holiness and righteousness. Because we are not just thinking things, but loving beings or wanting creatures.
So, what does this all mean, practically?
Well, what I think it means is that when we struggle to live differently, the problem often isn’t our moral muscle, resolve or lack of knowledge. The problem is that our hearts have not been attuned to love the way of Jesus over the other competing desires in our world.
When I live less than I should, it’s because I love something more than Jesus.
So, my challenge this week is just this: When you act differently than you know you should, ask Jesus to help you shape and change your wants. Because that’s where transformation resides.
Pray and say, “Jesus, help me to want forgiveness more than revenge.”
Pray and say, “Jesus, help me to want generosity more than financial security.”
Pray and say, “Jesus, help me to want your way of love more than fear.”
Pray for your heart and wants/desires to change.
Because, it’s not just about knowing more, but loving differently.
P.S. To learn more, Jamie Smith’s book You Are What You Love is amazing.