Thursday, June 21, 2012

Keeping the Gospel Soundtrack on Repeat

As a Christian I struggle to keep the gospel playing on repeat on my mental play-list.  I default to Law and idolatry.  God then sends trials to providentially dissuade us of our value and fasten our eyes upon Jesus, who alone is valuable.

Having this daily struggle as a Christian I find it to be my struggle and burden for believers in the Lord's church where I am privileged and blessed to pastor.  Therefore, I was richly blessed to read again of this dialog between Christian & Prudence in John Bunyan's classic allegory The Pilgrim's Progress.  The context is a dinnertime conversation between believers about the primacy and power of Christ's work.
Read this and be blessed and encouraged by the priority of returning to the cross, Christ's righteousness, the Scriptures, and the return of Christ!
PRUDENCE: Do you not still carry some of the baggage from the place you escaped? 
CHRISTIAN: Yes, but against my will.  I still have within me some of the carnal thoughts that all my countrymen, as well as myself, were delighted with.  Now all those things cause me to grieve.  If I could master my own heart, I would choose never to think of those things again, but when I try only to think about those things that are best, those things that are the worst creep back into my mind and behavior. 
PRUDENCE: Do you not still carry with you in your mind some recollection of the things that you were formerly involved with? 
CHRISTIAN: Yes, but greatly against my will, and especially those inward and carnal reasonings which all of my countrymen, as well as myself, were delighted to revel in. But now all those things only grieve me; and should I be able to choose only what I think, I would choose never to think of those carnal things anymore. But when I would be doing that which is best, still that which is worse remains with me. 
PRUDENCE: Don't you find that sometimes you can defeat those evil things that at other times seem to defeat you? 
CHRISTIAN: Yes, but those times of conquest over carnality are infrequent, though when they do occur such hours are truly golden. 
PRUDENCE: When you experience these precious times in which carnal annoyances are vanquished, can you remember by what means these triumphs were obtained? 
CHRISTIAN: Yes, when I meditate upon what I saw at the Cross, that will do it; and when I look at my embroidered coat, that will do it; also when I look inside the scroll that I carry in my chest pocket, that will do it; and when my thoughts are warmly stimulated about where I am going, that will do it. 
PRUDENCE: And what is it that makes you so desirous of going to Mount Zion? 
CHRISTIAN: Why there I hope to see living he who hung dead on the Cross; and there I hope to be rid of all those things within me that remain a constant annoyance. At the Celestial City they say there is no death, and there I shall dwell with the type of companions that I like best. For to tell you the truth, I love my Lord because he released me of my burden, and I am weary of my inward sickness. In view of these circumstances, I would much prefer to be where I shall die no more and my companions shall continually cry, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”
Yes. Yes.  This is good.

(Erik Raymond is the lead pastor at Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Nebraska. He blogs at Ordinary Pastor. You can follow him on Twitter.)

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