It's A Process
“It’s a process.”
We use the “process” card to explain our struggles to overcome habits, or roadblocks, that hamper progress in our journey of faith. But why do I sometimes get the feeling that a statement like that is simply an excuse? It may be a process, but if I look closely enough (heaven forbid) I might not be so surprised to learn that it isn’t even one I’ve started.
The reality is that the journey IS a process, but it pays to take a closer, more honest look at ourselves and determine whether or not we are actually engaged in that process.
I took note of one author’s definition of “hypocrisy” that other day. We often say that hypocrisy is saying one thing but doing something else. This particular author went a bit further by stating that hypocrisy is saying one thing but believing something else. I chewed on that for a while and came to the conclusion that it is easy to play the “process” card. I can quote Paul and say, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…” (Romans 7:15).
“It’s a process,” I cry, in my own defense.
Yes, it is. Paul knew this from personal experience. The war is on and will still be on as long as we are in this body living on this planet.
But when I take that extra step back and look at this revised definition of hypocrisy, I gain some insight into the root of the struggle, into why this “process” takes so long or, horrors, why it never really gets started in the first place, despite my insistence that I am thoroughly engaged in it.
If hypocrisy is saying one thing but believing another, then the issue is unbelief. It’s not that I’m weak in a certain area and struggling to overcome that weakness, it’s that deep down I don’t even BELIEVE what I am saying, so certainly I am not going to make much of an effort, if any, to get engaged in the process of working toward lining up what I do with what I say.
I mulled over this connection yesterday. Then, this morning, I found a place to apply its truth when I read Luke 18:1-8. Jesus was telling a parable to His disciples that was meant to teach them: "…that they should always pray and not give up” (18:1).
Prayer has always been a struggle for me. And I have always been happy to play the “process” card to explain why, after more than 50 years in the faith, it continues to be a struggle. I acknowledge that spiritual growth is a process, but I now wonder whether part of the struggle is related to unbelief. If I really believed would the same struggle go on for so long without any significant changes being seen? If I really believed, would I not be more persistent in prayer like the widow in the parable? If I really believed, would not the excuses drop away and show themselves for what they are—excuses, not legitimate reasons?
Put your process under the same microscope, whatever form that process may take—some habit, some sin, some weakness that seems to hang on, and on, and on, no matter how hard you try to overcome it. Are you actually in the process or are you using the process card to cover up unbelief. Paul recognized that sin was at work within him (Romans 7:23). He also recognized that the only solution, the only rescue, would come from Jesus (7:24, 25).
At the end of the parable, Jesus makes this sobering statement: “…when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). John MacArthur suggests that when Jesus comes back, real faith will be hard to find and compares the situation to that of Noah when only eight were saved. (One Perfect Life, page 328). And I ask myself whether or not that is already true. Real faith is recognizing that the sin of unbelief is the biggest obstacle to our spiritual journey and the one which we must struggle the most valiantly against. And when we are victorious through Christ, we will DO what we say we believe. My guess is that the process will turn out to be a lot shorter than it seems to be right now.