Reconstruction Series : Pt. 4 | Resolve
This is the fourth article in a four-part series on deconstruction and reconstruction. The previous three articles can be found here:
At a company I once worked for, there was a story that became an inspiration to me. As the story is told, we had an employee who was particularly difficult to manage. He followed all the rules, was always on time and in uniform, and was kind and respectful to customers and co-workers, but he was incredibly slow at his work. He was so slow that even though he was a nice guy, other team members hated being scheduled with him because that meant their workload would inevitably double. This was what made managing him so challenging. No one wanted to fire the guy for his poor performance, but something had to be done. He was hired because a job needed to be done, and he wasn't doing it. As great of a person as he was, after many attempts to coach him, the decision was made to let him go.
The following day, the store manager walks into work, and there stands the former employee — in full uniform on the sales floor. Incredibly confused, the manager walks over and breaks the hard news to the guy all over again. Head hung low, he leaves.
The manager comes into work the next day, and guess who's there? This same former employee. The whole scene repeats itself. It's beginning to feel like a scene from the movie "Groundhog Day."
This goes on for several more days, and finally, the manager reaches out to his supervisor for advice. In the meantime, the commitment shown by the employee has done a number on the morale of the store. They're almost cheering for him at this point. He's become a sort of mascot for them. The supervisor advises the manager to hire the employee back, realizing that his contribution to the character and morale of the store was worth the loss of productivity.
What was so remarkable about this employee? He just kept showing up. He was resolved.
As we wrap up our series on deconstruction and reconstruction, I'd like to say a word about the role of resolve in this process and its role in the Christian life in general. In one of the many prophecies about Jesus in the book of Isaiah, we find a phrase worth memorizing.
“Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame” (Isaiah 50:7).
"I have set my face like flint." Flint was often used in the ancient world for weaponry and is known for its strength. The idea that the prophet is communicating is that Jesus was resolved to fulfill the mission assigned to Him.
In my own journey back to the Lord, I had a time of serious doubt. Not doubt in the truthfulness of Christianity, but doubt that the Lord would "take me back." I doubted whether or not I was "sorry enough" or whether my repentance was genuine enough. I use scare quotes above because the concept of the Lord taking me back is not a Biblical one; He never left me. And the idea of being sorry enough is a trick of the enemy meant to keep us buried in unbelief. You'll never be sorry enough. There is no measure that you get to which merits God's forgiveness. It's freely given and received by faith.
I ended up in a vicious cycle of asking for forgiveness, failing, asking for forgiveness again, failing again, and on and on. I couldn't make any progress because I was cutting myself off from the power to overcome sin by not receiving His forgiveness. I unintentionally gave my flesh more reign by continuing to sulk in my guilt. The fuel that enables us to defeat sin in our lives is not guilt but grace (Titus 2:11-12). By refusing to accept that grace, I was perpetually powerless.
Then, one evening, defeated at my desk, I opened my Bible to a familiar passage.
“‘Return, you backsliding children, And I will heal your backslidings.’ ‘Indeed we do come to You, For You are the LORD our God .’” (Jer. 3:22 NKJV)
The bitterness began to return. "Why won't you do this for me, Lord? Why won't you heal my backslidings?"
And then the Lord brought another scripture to mind. Speaking of the children of Israel in the wilderness, the writer to the Hebrews says,
“For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.” (Heb. 4:2 NKJV)
I knew exactly what the Lord was telling me. He was telling me that the promise to heal my backslidings, the promise of peace, the promise of being cleansed of unrighteousness would not profit me unless they were "mixed with faith" (See also James 1:6-8).
But what does this have to do with resolve? In scripture, saving faith is presented as a supernatural gift from God. God grants the unbeliever the miraculous ability to see and trust Christ (John 6:44). But walking faith, the faith we are to exercise once we have been born again, is often presented as a choice (2 Cor. 5:6-8).
As Elisabeth Elliot once said, "Faith is a decision. It is not a deduction from the facts around us. We would not look at the world of today and logically conclude that God loves us. It doesn't always look as though He does. Faith is not an instinct. It certainly is not a feeling - feelings don't help much when you're in the lion's den or hanging on a wooden Cross. Faith is not inferred from the happy way things always work. It is an act of the will, a choice, based on the Unbreakable Word of a God who cannot lie, and who showed us what love and obedience and sacrifice mean, in the person of Jesus Christ.”
Those who have been made alive by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit are commanded to walk by faith. We must choose to believe God over all other competing voices. This is the resolve it takes to get to a place where that faith comes naturally.
We have to keep showing up. We have to come to the Lord each day, each moment if necessary, and choose to believe what we know is true. We know His Word is true.
For me, that meant writing it down, saying it out loud, "I am forgiven. I have peace with God. There is no condemnation for me. God will never leave me. He has given me everything I need for life and godliness..." Sometimes over and over again. That's resolve. I resolved to believe the truth even when I didn't feel it. Little by little, I drug my heart along. Things got easier, but in my own experience, this is a discipline I still have to practice daily. In our church, we call this preaching to yourself. I advise you to do the same and to resolve to do so regularly.
Over the course of this series, we have looked at the folly of deconstruction. It's nothing more than hip apostasy. The only first step for those involved in deconstruction is to repent. After that, we said that we need to begin a process of reform. Instead of abandoning or attempting to recreate our faith, we need to bring it into alignment with what the Bible actually says. Then, we looked at the critical step of reconnecting with the Body of Christ. These are tall orders. If you're in the fray of reconstruction, you know this first hand. But I encourage you to resolve to believe what you know is true. Mix the promises of God with faith, and you will not be put to shame.
Nick Judd is the Kids Pastor at The Journey Church in Lebanon, TN. He is also the co-host of the "Everyday Apologetics" podcast. Nick is passionate about growing people in their knowledge of the Word of God and in their ability to defend it in the midst of a culture fighting against truth.
- Common Objections to Christianity, Counterfeit Gospels, Post-Christianity