Some Struggles Remain
He asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. Mark 9:33-34
It’s not uncommon in to encounter Christians who believe that our self-destructive nature is miraculously removed and that our sinful desires are gone once we come to faith in Christ. This kind of teaching once made me question my faith. If our sinful nature is gone when we come to know God, then I must not know God, because I still want bad things. My experience told me my destructive appetites weren’t gone, but I knew enough to understand that my experience didn’t dictate right and wrong. So, I went looking in the Bible to discover what it taught about our destructive desires.
In reading, I’ve come to appreciate the honesty of those stories that depict, not perfect Christians, but rather very real people who follow Christ in spite of their ongoing struggles. Today’s passage tells of one such story. In the narrative, Jesus overheard his disciples arguing and asked them what it was about. They didn’t want to tell him, because they were embarrassed by their discussion. They’d been arguing about who was the greatest among them. These were men who lived with Jesus. Their lives had been radically transformed by him. Yet, they still struggled with silly, petty pride. No, I’m the best disciple. I’m better than you. Jesus loves me more . . . Though they followed Christ, the were still deeply flawed.
I do believe that God has changed my appetite in some ways, so that as I’ve followed him, thankfully, I want him more than I want drugs now. In that sense, I know freedom from that particular struggle as I daily follow him. That doesn’t mean my self-destructive appetites are all gone though. Like the disciples, I still struggle with silly, petty pride. Some struggles remain.
This doesn’t mean I must throw my hands up in frustration. I’m destined for failure. I’ll always struggle. While I may be continually afflicted by certain flaws, freedom in Christ means I don’t need to live enslaved to them. Daily, I can do whatever it takes to abandon my pride, choosing humility instead. My ongoing struggles keep me continually dependent on God. Some struggles remain, but so then does my need for him, and that’s not a bad thing.