In 2 Corinthians, Paul vaguely writes about a thorn in his side. Most likely a personal ailment, or, as he puts it, a “messenger from Satan,” scholars have debated for centuries on what this thorn really was.
When it comes to faith and spirituality, we all have a thorn that tests our faith from time to time—a personal battle.
I love the Lord and His teachings, and wouldn’t trade my faith journey for all cheese on the Moon. Truthfully however, I show up for class roughly half the time; my spiritual thorn is inconsistency.
I know I should read my Bible everyday; I know I should serve fellow-man and spend more time in prayer. I know I need to worship. I know I need to love.
Yet, on a busy day, these desires are the first I give up. Heck, half the time I’m not even that busy.
Everybody Has One
My spiritual life is about as consistent as my bowling game is: Strike. Gutter. Spare. Grandma Roll. Punch the Chair. Gutter. Get a Hot Dog. Gutter.
I’ve had this problem for a while, you see. Years and years of inconsistent faith. I’d be on fire for God and then quickly fade, or receive a vision of helping the homeless, and then go buy a Playstation.
On January 1st, I committed to a read the “Bible in a Year” regimen. An everyday sort of thing. WIth two chapters of Old Testament, one Psalm, and a New Testament chapter everyday, I was excited to sign up. I even thought the daily structure looked a little light.
Then life set in. I got busy. My thorn started jabbing, and now I’m three weeks behind in the Old Testament and two weeks behind in the New. How could this happen?
Well, there are excuses, of course.
I was traveling…
I had a test…
I’ve been busy at work…
(Never mind the time spent on Facebook, Temple Run 2, and the NBA Finals).
Scripture is just one example. There are times when prayer is all I want, and others when I’ll do anything I can to avoid it. Consistency is just beyond me.
Simple religious guilt? To be honest, no. I sincerely desire a healthy relationship with God. I long for a day where my spiritual agenda can’t be easily shaken—when God’s will can be carried out in confidence—despite whatever my Facebook feed feeds me or the limitations I find in my schedule.
I see the inconsistency in other places, too. The more I look around, the more I see others who suffer like me. I can say this in confidence because of the state of the world we live in; we could all be a little more consistent in our faith and in the Gospel.
We are a generation of Christians who could spread the Gospel like wildfire if we would only light the match. We say things like, “I’ve been busy at work,” though inside, I think we’re all just waiting for a little push.
Is spiritual inconsistency a natural part of faith? Is this where, as they say, the rubber meets the road?
Is spiritual inconsistency another name for laziness? The more I write about it, the more I wonder.
Does the Church unintentionally encourage spiritual inconsistency? Showing up on Sunday is a popular (and shallow) way to keep each other accountable. Has the “one-day-a-week” mentality played a part in these habits?
How do we tackle spiritual inconsistency without encouraging empty religious guilt? Not all guilt is bad, but we need to be careful about labeling our own judgements as God’s.