Reflections On A Year We’d Rather Forget

There never was an athlete who was able to perform at the peak of his skills by sitting on the couch watching TV. He could watch 18 hours of his chosen sport every day, but he will never even get picked for the team, let alone be able to excel.

Not even if that athlete is LeBron James, or Serena Williams, or Dustin Martin. It just doesn’t work that way.

The athlete has to train – train hard, train often, train relentlessly. There is nothing comfortable or particularly enjoyable about training. The athlete has to push against resistance, and push through pain barriers that would overwhelm the average person. The end result may be satisfying and enjoyable, but the path to that end is nothing short of intensely demanding and painful.

And few are able to reach the pinnacle of their sport without a coach to push them harder and further than they ever imagined they could go.

And so it is with Christian life and faith…

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A Difficult and Divisive Doctrine

We had some solid food to chew on Sunday at church. Food that JI Packer said “is strong meat: very nourishing to those who can take it, but acutely indigestible to those whose spiritual system is out of order.”

We can blame Jesus for leading us into it, for we were only considering what He means by His words in John 6:35-48. It’s not the only place He talks about this though. It keeps popping up in John’s gospel. Matthew, Mark and Luke all record similar statements. Paul brings it up – often. James and Peter mention it. Even Jude brings it up in his short letter.

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and Jeremiah are all examples of it. So clearly it must be food that the Lord wants us to chew on, to digest, and to absorb.

And yet, Christians argue over it – heatedly. Churches have split over it. Which tells me one thing about this food, this teaching – we don’t understand it. For that is the last thing that should be happening.

So what it this solid food?

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Why Do Only Some Believe?

Why is it that some people put their trust in Jesus Christ, and others do not? What sets these people apart that they become Christians, while others don’t?

Are some more righteous than others to begin with? Are they more godly, more holy already, so that they naturally take the next step and trust Jesus entirely? Is that what happens?

I doubt it. I can think of any number of people I know who seem to be better people than I, who at the same time, express zero interest in Christ. Some even openly declare their atheism.

Maybe they are more spiritual than others. They’ve always had an interest in spirituality, so it’s natural to take the next step into Christian faith.

Again, I doubt it. I’ve met plenty of very ‘spiritual’ people, many of whom I would suggest are spiritual fruit-loops, with no real interest in Jesus Christ.

Are some more intelligent than others, and so make the right decision for Christ? Surely not, for some of the most intelligent people on earth are often the most anti-God.

Well, maybe it’s that some recognise their need, their sin, their emptiness, their bankruptcy, more than others. But then I’ve known some pretty glum, pretty defeated people that never turn to Christ.

So, what is it then?

Jesus answers that question – at least, in part – in John 6. And it can make for uncomfortable – and confusing – reading for some people.

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