My Natural State
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16
I’ve done a lot of sitting around since my knee surgery. I read. I watch TV. I eat. I can feel the effects, not just of the surgery, but of the inactivity. Unfortunately, once I’ve recovered, I feel like it’s going to take significant effort to once again get up early to go to the gym before work. Honestly, I’ve enjoyed sleeping in. I’ve enjoyed reading. And I enjoy eating. I didn’t think I would be, but I’m pretty good at doing nothing. Sitting around, getting fatter and more out of shape is unfortunately, my natural condition. Before my surgery, it took purposeful effort and discipline to build a habit of exercising every day and now, I’m going to have to rebuild that. My natural state is one of gluttony and laziness. Just because it’s natural though, doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
This seems to be the tone of Peter’s words in today’s passage. In it, he implored his audience not to return to their old lives. Though we all fail, and though we all have struggles, it isn’t the expectation of the Christian life that we remain enslaved to them. The bar is set high. Be holy, for I am holy. We are to always be in a state of becoming better than we were yesterday.
Peter knew what we know. Even though we want the new life, the old one has a natural pull on us. I’ve used this illustration before, but it’s worth repeating – Life is like an escalator always moving downward. We’re on it, with the old life at the bottom and the new life at the top. Just to remain in one place, we must keep moving. If we do nothing, we inherently gravitate towards the old life. This is our natural condition while we live in these flawed bodies.
To experience the new life requires purposeful and continual movement on our part. God always does his part. He frees us from the old life, providing the option of the new life. He walks with us. He empowers us. Still, we must continually participate. We must daily do. Daily, we must turn from our natural state to become more. Daily, we must ask God what he wants us to abandon and what he wants us to pursue. Then, we must do it. Our natural state is to descend to the old life. But just like me, stuck in my recliner, natural isn’t healthy.