Keeping in Step
Often in our desire to grow, we put pressure on ourselves to perfect and “get it right” instead of enjoying the intimacy and power of the Holy Spirit. When we surrender to the Spirit of God, we do so to cultivate intimacy with a God who loves us passionately and accepts us completely. He wanted you; He wants you still. How would living from a place of security change you? How does this relate to the difference between perfectionism and excellence in a place like Auckland?
This struggle is not only a modern-day reality. Paul spoke about this to the church in Galatia:
“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” —GALATIANS 3:1-3 (NIV)
What we began by faith in salvation, we continue by faith in keeping in step with Spirit inside of us. As Eugene Peterson says, “If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it?” We pay attention to the work of the Spirit in our lives and we respond to Him, not in performance, but in repentance and faith. The believer is not working to secure these realities, but seeking to live in light of them.
Growing in awareness of God’s holiness also makes us more keenly aware of our brokenness. The experience of the growing gap can leave us desperate, and we have choices to make. We can:
1. Perform. Try Harder
This performance leads either to arrogance, “Look at how I have my life together”; or it leads to condemnation and self-contempt, “I should have known better.” “I should have it together by now.“ “I failed again!”
2. Repent. Cry, “Mercy!” Surrender to the Spirit.
Repent and believe that Jesus has already given you His righteousness, and His Spirit lives inside of you. We surrender to His power in a healthy admission that He can do it, we can’t. When we repent, we turn back to restore intimacy and count as true the secure relationship we already have. We ask for the Spirit to empower us to stay in His presence and keep in step with him.
Living the Spirit-filled life allows us to pursue excellence without the pressure of perfectionism.
If we desire to be a generation of leaders who are self-differentiated, able to engage authentically with those who don’t know Christ, and a people who love others with passion, we will need to surrender to the supernatural work of the Spirit in our lives.