Yesterday something happened to me that has never happened before!
Every time I have devoted intentional time to fasting, it has always been such a spiritually strengthening time. Not that this one hasn’t, but I have never experienced a spiritual grenade during my fast time…yesterday one went off. You know one of those experiences where something blind sides you, and you have a hard time functioning in the moment because you are processing what just happened? You are kind of in a daze as you consider, “what?” and then “how?” and then “whoah!”
Then I realized I need to blog for Day 6. “C’mon, Jeff, just suck it up and put on the face. Say some good Christian, biblical stuff, and then get back to picking up the pieces.” (At this point, you may be wondering, what happened in your life on Friday? If I shared the details, most of you would probably say, “Really? That’s all?” But, for me, it is one of those areas of life that really knocks the wind out of me!) Now, what?
THE GOSPEL AND “DELIGHT”
It seems this week the theme of “delight” keeps coming back up. Delight is more than a feeling. It is a disposition. It is intentional. It is a great summary of the Gospel. the Gospel is not simply a transaction that takes place. It is more than that. It is the realization as a human being that you desperately need help. That you can’t do this “life” thing on your own. That you at the controls will end in disaster and that your only hope is a Savior and Lord named Jesus Christ. You delight to acknowledge this. You delight in the promise of salvation and forgiveness and delight to grow in your relationship with Christ.
It drives you…it consumes you…you find yourself thinking about it all the time…sharing it with strangers…sharing it with friends. It is Gospel “euphoria!” This euphoria takes different stages.
THE THREE STAGES OF DELIGHT
The Bible describes three “growth stages” of being a follower of Christ. They are beautifully described in the apostle John’s first epistle (1 John 2:12-14). Let’s track how delight matures as the follower of Christ matures.
The first “stage” is described as the “little children” stage. He says, “I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for His name’s sake” (verse 12). Later, John will add that the children “know the Father.” It is a rather simple delight. “My sins are forgiven by the Father. Woohoo!” I love seeing people in this stage of delight. They love Jesus! They are energetic. They know their sins are forgiven, and everything else is all good! This group often struggles with spiritual attacks from the enemy. When they realize that the character of God involves more than just forgiveness and that “all things working together for good is not always what their definition of good would be, “delight” can be a chore.
But, true followers of Christ persevere (cf. Philippians 1:6). True followers grow and mature. Then, it is on to the second stage.
“Young men” is the description John uses for this second “stage.” They are characterized by a delight from their overcoming the evil one and from their spiritual strength, stemming from the Word of God abiding in them. This is a great stage where the winds of attack from the evil one are met with biblical resistance…when the suffering of life is not a de-railer but rather understood to be part of the sanctification process (cf. 1 Peter 1:6-9). This is a good stage. However, life doesn’t always fit nicely into systematic theological boxes. Things aren’t always neatly black-and-white, and the lessons God providentially teaches in this stage can rattle the ramparts of even the young men. In these times, “delight” is often something that has to be doctrinally recalled rather than a natural reaction.
As the young men strive for delight, despite circumstances, something wonderful happens. They blossom into a third stage.
This “stage” is referred to as the “fathers.” Their delight is a rather simple one – but most definitely not simplistic! Their delight flows out of an intimate relationship with “Him who is from the beginning.” Sure, life gets difficult. Sure, there are realities that stretch even these spiritual veterans, but their delight is secure in the knowledge they have gained from their relationship with Him – a relationship that is a combination of truth from the Word and experience in life. They see Him as the “One who is from the beginning.” They recognize, naturally, that He does not change…that He is the Alpha and the Omega…that they can trust in His character. What a sweet place this would be.
I believe Christians can ebb and flow along these stages. Just because you are at one stage does not mean you have “arrived” or that you have “failed.” Obviously, we should strive to be a “father” in the faith.
So, how should delight affect us? I saw this in action this past week. A family member was taking care of her ailing mother, well advanced in years. My family member naturally took care of her mother in ways that amazed me. As I walked out to the car, I remarked to my wife how amazed I was and wondered aloud what motivated her. My wife responded simply and astutely, “she loves her.”
That’s it! Our love for the Lord is our delight! Hopefully by now you know that love is so much more than a feeling. It is a choice. It is a disposition. It is a mindset. Truth and experience inform and grow our love. The same is true with our delight for the Lord.
So, here I sit. My circumstances did not miraculously change as I typed. I will be faced with them when I click “post.” But, I have a choice. I can be overwhelmed with circumstances in life. Or I can strive to rest in the knowledge of Him who is from the beginning. Oh, how I wish I was a father in the faith. But, for now, I will equip my right thinking with the Word of God and abide in it. I am confident my Lord will show up. I don’t know how, and it may get rough. But, these words are being typed from my heart. And, I pray that is an indication of growing delight.
1. Assess your walk with Christ, if you were to assign a “stage” of delight, where would you be?
2. How can you grow your delight to the next stage?
3. What is one takeaway this week of fasting has taught you about delighting in Christ?
12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:12-14)