A couple of years ago I was preparing a lesson for a group of college students, and a principle from Scripture came out so clearly to me, and it has been stuck in my head for awhile, as I think and talk with people about dealing with different life issues.
This idea came to me, as I’m sure many others have thought of before, but it was so powerful. It’s so easy, and so common, to try to “not” do things. Right? We avoid things. It is just natural. We avoid awkward situations (though some, like me, sort of thrive in those environments, but most aren’t big fans). We avoid going outside of our comfort zones; we many times avoid too many risks or “outside of the box” ideas.
Especially in Christian groups, we often avoid talking about certain topics for fear of offending (as even saying this may offend some…oops) or making others feel awkward. We avoid confrontation. We even sometimes avoid calling sin what it is.
Here’s the kicker: we even avoid encouraging and lifting up others. We sometimes avoid being confident because it may be interpreted as pride or arrogance.
When I thought about this, it kind of made me sad. Many of these ideas of what we avoid just now came to me, they weren’t fully formed a couple of years ago. But, I think it is true we avoid a lot of things. My question is this: WHY?
Especially some of those more positive things we avoid…WHY? Why avoid encouraging? Why avoid being confident in who you are and what you are capable of doing (after all, isn’t it spiritual to be confident because God gifted you and made you talented, so why not have confidence in how He made you??)? Why avoid confrontation, done in love and with the right attitude, but why so often avoid it?
Many of the things we tend to avoid can be so beneficial to our lives. They can bring more joy and fulfillment. They can bring more unity and wholeness to our lives. They can bring a greater sense of purpose and passion in life when we confidently understand that we are capable of changing this world.
There are some things in the Bible that we are instructed to avoid. For sure. But, there are also many things in the Bible that we are told to pursue. It is so easy to focus on the negative isn’t it? I know it’s easy for me. But, we are in a battle of pursuit every day. We all pursue something, or someone. For many, these things change and vary.
But there are some incredible things the Bible tells us to pursue. One of these lists comes from 1 Timothy 6:11:
“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. PURSUE righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.”
Now who wouldn’t want to pursue, or chase after, living right, imitating God, trusting in the Creator of the Universe, love and a habit of patience, as well as an attitude and a focus dominated by gentleness and compassion? This would be one pretty awesome person who lived all of these out. And the great thing is that it is possible! Paul, the writer of 1 Timothy, did not write here for people to pursue something that could never be attained… but he writes it so we know what to pursue and we know that it is possible to live such a great life, even an abundant fullness of life like Jesus promised in John 10:10.
So, I don’t know where you are at in life right now. But make a conscious choice right now to pursue these things. And explore the Bible for other things to pursue, like the fruit of the Spirit or wisdom (the entire book of Proverbs talks about pursuing, chasing, getting wisdom. Check it out.).
The Christian life is not passive. It requires a daily pursuit. So, live in this struggle between avoidance and pursuit. Recognize it. Own it. And instead of avoiding doing certain things, pursue Jesus Christ and see where He takes you. He often takes me into places or circumstances I would normally want to avoid at first, but then the blessing is so much greater than I could ever have experienced doing something under my own power… Try it out. Pursue Him.