Something is amiss when a person participates in the life of a church only because of the forces of ‘ought.’ Parental training, family expectations, long-term habits, the heavy weight of conscience, and a sense of duty are not the overriding compulsions of the Christlike as they arise on the Lord’s Day to gather with God’s own. That is not to say that rightly motivated worshipers have none of the other influences, for some of them are quite healthy. But the primary motivation for growing Christians is “want,” not “ought.”
Any true delight is always a willing delight, not a reluctant one. Delight in the people of God cannot be forced into the soul any more than parents can coerce their single adult son to delight in a potential mate who hold no attraction for him. Nor will anyone delight in church primarily because we shame them for delighting in the NFL, a hobby, or something else more than the family of God. The church is not a taste to be acquired, a new preference developed by sheer resolve. Just as candy delights a child, so the child of God does not have to be persuaded to delight in the supernatural spiritual sweetness found only in God’s church. Delight in the church is inborn in those who are born again.
– by Donald S. Whitney, Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health
On Wednesday nights at our church (ARBC), we are going chapter-by-chapter through the wonderful book referenced above. As I read through this quote in preparation for Chapter 6 (“Do You Delight in the Bride of Christ?”), I thought of the ways I have been guilted and shamed into doing something someone else thought I should do for Christ before I surrendered to him, and even after I became a Christian. But Whitney is right: no one else can force delight!
The Holy Spirit’s role is to awaken and regenerate the heart to where it is bends away from self and is bent toward Christ! Yet, so many Christians play Holy Spirit, Jr! We want people bent toward what we think is primary—we, in our zeal for Christian, can shove people away from Christ by making them fit into our mold.
How glorious that God has given each Christian particular gifts and passions fueled by the Spirit to make a Kingdom difference where He has called us! How boring it would be if everyone in Christ were the exact same (read through 1 Corinthians 12)! He brings a variety of people who work in a variety of ways to reach even more variety of people who in turn work in those variety of ways—all led by the Spirit of God!
God used this paragraph to help me develop relationships with other believers to find out their story and what is happening in their lives—then to encourage them toward Christlikeness rather than guilt them toward Matt-likeness! Do we challenge each other? Yet, but we must always check the motivation!
What is our ultimate purpose—for people to be like us, or like Christ?