My in-laws had a grandfather clock complete with gears, chains, weights and pendulum. No matter how many times the weights were reset and the clock put in motion, the pendulum always came to rest in the place from which it began. Like a pendulum our lives are ‘hung’ upon something and inevitably come to rest directly below that from which they are suspended.
The question is, to what is my life tethered?
Those who deny God’s sovereign right to rule and replace it with their own, suspend their lives upon their own person and will. Their highest and best ethic is – ‘to thine own self be true’. Having hung their lives from no great height they still find it impossible to succeed. God insures that this is so. He has instilled in each of us a capacity for moral judgement and populated it with standards drawn from his own character. Even when men and women set out to be ‘true to themselves’, they simply can not. The law of the lord is ‘written upon their hearts’, condemning those who ‘sin bravely’, and those who seek and fail to embody the ‘good’ that God has put within.
In this way, the Bible explains why it is so very hard to bring about lasting change that is ‘for the better’. Those whose anchor point is not God, find themselves in a losing battle, returning time and again to the place from which they started. By contrast, those who are centred in God and who seek to do his will, draw closer and closer to that position of ‘rest’ to which God has called them.
Consider Jesus who entered manhood saying “I must be about my Father’s business”. That ‘business’ took him to Gethsemane where he answered his own prayer, saying ‘not my will but yours be done’. God’s will took him to the cross where he declared “it is finished’. His Father’s purpose had been fully completed in his life and by his life.
Unlike ours, the life of Jesus was only ever attached to and suspended from God. He had no lingering doubt, no sins to regret or bad habits to reform. He did not need to detach from his former life, as we do.
When we ‘obeyed the gospel’ from the heart, God transferred us from the ‘kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of His own dear Son’. We were made into new spiritual beings and joined to Jesus. This established a new normal. Embracing the fact that we have become new creatures in Christ is foundational. Our lives are now hidden with Christ and infused with divine purpose. This is not a matter of semantics or an exercise in the ‘power of positive thinking’. We are not pretending that something is so when it is not. Taking hold of our new spiritual reality, by faith, is necessary in order to reset our lives which have in fact begun anew. Our anchor point has been moved and it pulls us toward God…if we will let Him.
It is rather those who forget who they have become in Christ who fail to grow up into the image of God’s Son.
The apostle Peter wrote:
Through these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world on account of lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they do not make you useless nor unproductive in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the one who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choice of you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. (2nd Peter 1:4-11)
While it is true that sinful people are helpless to save themselves, it is not true that those now in Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit remain helpless and unable to obey God. Those who teach this are responsible for the failure of God’s people to centre their lives in Him. God has made us participants in his divine nature and calls us to become by choice what we already are by His grace.
When we entered the new covenant through the blood of Jesus, we accepted God’s salvation and agreed to live under the lordship of Jesus. Having ransomed us from sin, God requires ‘proof of life’ – in the form of spiritual growth. Jesus himself disowned those who say that He is their lord, but fail to do what he commands.
Which brings us back to the question “from what is the pendulum of my life suspended?
If we are ever to rest in Him, we must position ourselves beneath our Lord and submit to his will. For it is when His will is done in our lives, that we return to the ‘shepherd and guardian of our souls’.