A young man at Hope has lost an amazing amount of weight and he looks exceptional. As he and I have talked over the weeks since his weight loss, I've reminded him that it's one thing to lose the weight, it's another to keep the weight off- that is a change in lifestyle, in a sense, a constant battle.
What happens is, the body is used to the old weight, the old way of eating and exercising- maybe not exercising, spending time at the gym instead on the couch. Physiologically, the body will do everything it can to get you to back to, “normal”. One day, the body will come to recognize that this new weight is, "normal" and the body will not like long times on the couch and old eating habits. I think the same thing is true for being religious; it's not easy.
Being religious is a daily battle. It's a struggle within ourselves of jealousy, self-contentedness, anger, sometimes hatred. I suppose you could say it's a battle within us with sin- however that may be defined. Being religious means spending time with those things which nourish that sense of, "holiness" within us, seeking God's peace instead of our desires, accepting others as God created them rather than judging them by our standards. It's not easy.
Years ago, America's preacher was Billy Graham. he held crusades across the world and people by the hundreds and thousands responded to his message by "giving their life to Christ". Over the years research was done to see how these folks were doing with their new lives. Consistently the research showed that after 6 months of their religious experience, over 98% of the people who responded to Mr. Graham's message went back to the way things were. The euphoria of the experience wore off and life had to be lived. This isn't meant to be a criticism of the Billy Graham's crusades or the people moved by his message. It's a recognition that being religious takes work. Call it the devil, call it "life", call it what you will, there is something within us that wants to go back to the way things were. Intentional time of prayer, contemplation- study, putting others' needs before our own, intentional acts of kindness, being forgiving & accepting are—these are tough things, but this is the stuff of a religious life. The trade-off is the possibility of real peace, a real sense of life and purpose in life, a joy in living, an understanding of our place in the universe. But there’s an old expression that says, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” If you want a partner on this journey, drop me a note.