Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him (Colossians 2:6, esv).
Do you need a crisis of faith?
“A crisis? No thanks!” we might be tempted to respond, lumping crisis in with root canal or bankruptcy. But in the life of a Christ-follower, a crisis can be a very good thing—in fact, an essential thing.
“We need regular intervals of turning and returning to the Lord.”
As Christians, we often confuse the crisis with the process. Conversion to Christ happens in a crisis. In a certain place at a specific time, you heard the Good News about Jesus, by faith turned from sin, and received God’s forgiveness. At that pivotal turning point in your life, you became a true follower of Jesus. That’s the first faith crisis.
We are often taught—incorrectly—that following that crisis, everything else in the Christian life falls into a process called sanctification. In “process-only” sanctification, the Christian life becomes a version of self-help: become a better parent, learn how to manage your finances, be a good example at work. Process-only sanctification feels like adding, adding, adding. Try harder, grow yourself, run in an endless cycle of data-gathering and hopeful implementation.
Process is important, but process alone will not complete the work God began at your crisis of conversion. Colossians 2:6 teaches, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him” (emphasis mine). I bet your conversion story sounds something like this: “I was going along through life, thinking I had it all together, and then BAM, God dropped a boulder on my life. He got my attention! I had a problem, and I realized I couldn’t handle it on my own, so I reached out to the Lord. Later I realized it was really God reaching out to me.” Does that sound like your story? It’s all of ours. The label on the boulder may be different for each of us—existential crisis, a child afraid of going to hell, a failing marriage, a normally healthy person with awful news from the doctor—but the purpose it served was the same. God got our attention. Conversion happens at a moment of time: the crisis.
Just as you received the Lord (in a crisis), so walk in Him (returning to the point of crisis). As we grow in Christ, we aren’t supposed to leave the crises in the rearview mirror. We need regular intervals of turning and returning to the Lord, when the chords of commitment that bind our hearts to His are tightened again. While we are eternally forgiven the penalty of sin through faith in Christ, the power of that sin still looms large over our old nature. A poor choice, a weak moment, a willful wandering—and we need another crisis.
Don’t just try harder; return to the Lord! Not because He has left you (He hasn’t!) but because you, like Jonah, have in some way at some level left Him. As you received him (a moment of turning), so walk in Him (a moment of returning).
Historically, revival preachers traveled from church to church, issuing a call to return to the Lord. In effect, their message reminded Christians, “What are you doing way over there?” And all God’s people would agree, “You’re right. I don’t even want to be over here. Thanks for reminding me where I really want to be. I’m coming back right now.” That pattern of revival is nearly absent in our churches today. Our special speakers take us more deeply and analytically into our process: how to be a better friend/neighbor/witness, how to communicate with your spouse/children, how to make peace with your past, etc. So much teaching focuses on horizontal behavioral adjustments with very little focus on the vertical relationship between God and you. The sad result, as every survey confirms, is very little heart transformation. Churches used to teach that if we got our lives right with God, then the other pieces would fall into place. Instead we’re shuffling the pieces, somehow hoping that’ll make us right with God. What we desperately need is a crisis—a turning, a returning to the Lord.
When was the last time you had a spiritual crisis in your life? When God convicted you about the weeds growing unwanted and treacherous in the garden of your heart? When your love for God’s Word was rekindled? When your heart was tender enough to weep over lost family members and co-workers who desperately need the Savior? If your honest answer is “It’s been a while,” then “Come, let us return to the Lord” (Hosea 6:1). You have to come to that place of crisis again and again. If you’ve known the Lord for a decade, you still need that returning—maybe even more so. God forgive us for trying to live the Christian life as all process and no crisis.
Come. A crisis awaits you.
Lord God, forgive me for trying to safely manage my faith, as if horizontal adjustments are what I need. I need a crisis of faith. I choose today to return to You, my Lord. I want to press on to know You. Weed out the sin in my life. Rekindle my love for Your Word. Soften my heart for the lost. Bind my heart to Yours more tightly. Reign over me, as I’ve never known before. All that I am and have is Yours. Just as I received Christ Jesus, teach me to walk in Him. In His name, amen.