We all do it. We assume that when something changes then we’ll do what we know we should be doing. When the kids are sleeping better I’ll be able to get out to church more. When work isn’t so full on I’ll be better at engaging with the church family. When I’m not so stressed I’ll serve rather than just attend church. Once things are a bit less crisis to crisis or when my heads less of a shed I’ll pick up my Bible and pray. Once I get the new promotion, or the new boss, or change jobs entirely I’ll be able to disciple my family. But here’s the things, that never happens.
The bible warns us that our hearts are deceitful above all things. In other words we’re masters at fooling ourselves, and this is one of the ways we do it. We postpone sanctification while we wait for a change in circumstance. It may be a small thing like those mentioned above or it may be a big thing like moving location or getting a new job. We always default to thinking that situational tweaks will make a difference without realising that the problem isn’t out there it is in here.
It also reveals that we default to thinking following Jesus should be easy not a battle. Despite all of the Old Testament being a warning to us reminding us that the battle for spiritual fidelity is fought in the ordinary and everyday decisions that set our trajectory. Despite Jesus calls to deny self and carry our cross and follow him. Despite all the warnings in the Epistles that we are in a spiritual battle each and every day of our lives, we postpone fighting while we wait for circumstance change that will make it easier.
We all do it. Where are you doing it at the moment? What’s the ‘if only…’? Where are you believing ‘if I just had’ this, or ‘if they would just’ that, or ‘if only this’. Sanctification doesn’t only happen against a backdrop of ideal circumstances. Sanctification is the progress we make when we grasp our redeemed and recreated identity in Christ and full of the Spirit, humbly reliant upon him pursue following Jesus – obeying his commands – where we are right now. Otherwise the danger is that we’ll make it to the end of our lives and never have grown up, never reached maturity and we’ll look back on a life of putting off sanctification.