Christians do a pretty good job of shaming each other on the Internet. Seriously. Tell me how many times you’ve seen this little gem:
Why do we sleep in church, but stay awake through a three-hour movie?
Why is it so hard to pray, but so easy to gossip?
Why are we bored when we read the Bible, but we can stay on Facebook all day?
It goes on longer, but you get the point: You should feel guilty because you like all this stuff more than you like the things of God. It’s nothing new. I think I remember seeing this in some form or another when I got my first email account and everyone was doing chain emails (ROLYAT_HOHO@juno.com if any spammers are reading). Years later, I still see it pop up on my Facebook feed from time to time.
It’s managed to hang around because, like any good Christian chain message, it does a good job tapping into our guilt. And many of the assumptions are true. Personally, I don’t have any more trouble staying awake in church than I do when watching movies (Fun fact – I’ve fallen asleep in the theater during Inception AND The Dark Knight Rises), but I do struggle with prayer and Bible reading. At least, it’s a lot harder for me to do those two things than it is for me to gossip and waste my day on Facebook.
And, despite what this guilt-trip message would have you believe, that’s okay.
It’s easy for me to get discouraged because I have trouble working on my faith. Maybe you’re the same way. Maybe your prayers peter out after a couple minutes. Maybe you do okay reading the first couple chapters of Genesis, but then you get to the “begats” and your mind starts wandering. And then maybe you beat yourself up, because if you were truly spiritual, you’d be able to talk to God for hours on end and burn through the whole Bible in an afternoon because you just can’t put it down.
But here’s the deal. Doing stuff that’s good for you isn’t always fun. Movies, gossip, and Facebook…well, those things are easy.
But fighting a sin nature to do things you know you have to do? That takes work.
I wake up at around 5:30 am two days a week so I can go to the gym. I never look forward to it. Every time my alarm goes off, all I can think about is how much I want to go back to sleep. But I drag myself out of bed and force myself to exercise, because it’s good for me. I do it early in the morning because I know that’s the time that will cut into quality time with my wife the least. And when I’m done, I’m glad I did it.
But it would be much easier to sleep in on workout day.
It would be easier to eat nothing but Oreos.
It would be easier to sit on Facebook all morning instead of reading a few chapters in Joshua.
There are going to be days that prayer is refreshing and powerful. There are going to be days that the Bible captures your attention and you devour a passage like it’s the latest page-turner. But there are also going to be hard days. There might even be more hard days than easy ones. And that’s okay, because you don’t have to enjoy it for it to be good for you.
You just have to do it.