Saturday, August 11, 2007

Two Different Internal Struggles

Twice this week I have shared a bit of practical theological application. I should probably blog about it as well. :-)

Paul writes (in Romans 7 and 8) about one kind of internal struggle: when our conscience is healthy enough to know what is the right thing to do but our inclination is to do otherwise.

As disciples of Yeshua we can still face this first kind of struggle, but we should not. If we were devoted to God properly (what Paul calls living empowered by God's Spirit rather than our flesh) our inclination would also be purified to match God's ways.

A second kind of internal struggle is not mentioned as explicitly in scripture: when both our conscience and inclination are righteous but we are not sure what to do next. There is still a small struggle because after finishing a task we still need to pause, focus on God, and seek to be with him and doing his will. In this case the old saying is appropriate: "the good can be the enemy of the perfect." It is simpler to create things to do for God, and call that devotion, than to take the time to listen to God so to join what he is doing and be set apart for him and with him as he himself desires.

This second kind of struggle should be part of normal life as disciples of Yeshua. This dynamic of fellowship and surrender is what Paul calls "giving our lives as a living sacrifice".

Heschel wrote that the fundamental Jewish act was pausing and focusing on God throughout the day. May we be following Yeshua properly, so that when we pause our struggle is only to listen to which good thing to do next with God, not to resist an evil inclination.