Friday, June 07, 2013


So I'm responding to a post on Desiring God entitled "Lay Aside the Weight of Sluggishness" by Jon Bloom.

I like Desiring God and support their message. This post was probably aimed at normal Christians, but I have to respond to some of what was written there.

The passage used as a basis is Hebrews 6:11-12:

“And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

The illustration given is a runner who is being sluggish:

Sluggishness in a runner signals danger to a coach. Something isn’t right. Something is causing ambivalence, draining confidence. The runner is losing heart. Half-hearted running is a forerunner to quitting.
That’s when a caring coach intervenes.
 That's assuming that a caring coach is present. One of my beefs is that I can't seem to get wise counsel from anyone. I don't have a coach. When I get sluggish, who is there to exhort me on? I've asked for help and some have tried, but they always stop short of giving me what I need.

So perhaps I need blog posts from Desiring God to serve as my life coach since no living person will do it.

When we feel like this we typically want an arm around the shoulder and a gentle word of understanding and commiseration. What we typically need are loving reproofs, like these:
“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.” (Hebrews 3:12)
“Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.” (Hebrews 4:1)
“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:26-27)
So perhaps I just need the Bible. I hold the authority of the Bible in high regard. As far as I'm concerned it is the source of information from God by which all other information should be judged. But do we not all need help applying it effectively?

So what does Jon Bloom give us as a list to go by?

  1. Identify the doubt. Sluggishness has a cause. What is sapping your faith?
  2. Repent. Unbelief is a sin. Seek to actively turn from it.
  3. Target that unbelief with biblical truth. Stop whatever else you may be doing for devotional reading and focus on and pray through texts that deal directly with this issue. Lay aside your other book reading and read things that address this doubt.
  4. Don’t go it alone. Humble yourself and share your struggle with trusted counselors God has given you. Our great Coach often speaks through assistant coaches (Hebrews 3:13).
So let's go through the list.

1. Identify the doubt.

What doubt this is Jon doesn't say. If I had a doubt, it's that God really wants to use me. I've tried to minister to people. In fact a couple of people have mentioned that I minister in ways that I don't know about. They have told me what those ways are and I suspect that they are just saying that hoping that it's true because they can't really think of anything specific to mention.

2. Repent.

I haven't been convinced that my particular doubt is a sin. God uses people. God uses some people more than others. Some people have the greater honor. Some people are so pitiful that they have to be hidden (1 Cor 12:23b). I often wonder at passages like this if Paul is giving us an ideal that is rarely followed by churches today or if we are to assume that this is the way churches really function. If this is an ideal only, then it must be true that many people simply aren't used the way that Paul indicates that they are to function within the Body of Christ.

So what am I to repent of? How am I supposed to change? Do I simply decide to believe that God will use me and he suddenly will? I used to believe this and he didn't. so I must conclude that not everyone is seen as worth using in the Body of Christ by those who determine such things. Show me a pastor, deacon, or elder who actually organizes the work of the church according to 1 Cor 12, and I will repent. Otherwise, there is nothing to repent of.

3. Target that unbelief with biblical truth.

I just tried that. I think my doubt is biblically and practically justified.

4. Don't go it alone.

Find me someone who will give me wise counsel and follow through with it and I won't go it alone. If you can't, do it yourself. I've tried and people back away. I really wish people wouldn't ask socially awkward people like myself to go find someone on our own. That's like asking a 2-year-old who got lost at Disneyland to go find his own parents. No. The parents go looking for the 2-year-old. I've asked people to help. I've even had some people offer. However, no one will stick with me.

I know. Depressing, isn't it?


aquaduck said...

The letter to the Hebrews seems to have been written due to confusion regarding the old & new covenant. There was probably pressure on the new Christians to return to Judaism, hence the encouragement to remain faithful & not be sucked in by the persuasive deception & give up on Christ.

This seems different about being concerned about what God has planned for your life & a desire to be faithful wherever you may be. I would say there are different kinds of depression… If Christ is your Saviour what is it that defines your worthlessness, What really defines you, your depression or Christ ?

Depressed Christian said...

I don't see a distinction between depression and Christ. I'm defined by my Creator, but in any affliction Christ should be magnified. Therefore, it is through depression I seek to glorify Christ.

As to how successful I am at it, that remains to be seen. By his work of salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit, I am given intrinsic value equal to the work. However, we each have different values as useful tools functioning in the Body of Christ. In this regard I see myself as worthless. Despite my best efforts I seem to fail at fitting into the ministry of gospel (as defined by the typical Western church culture.)

As for the Hebrews reference, I was only responding to what Jon Bloom of Desiring God seemed to be saying. I didn't engage the text he was using itself although I passed it on in my blog post.

aquaduck said...

I don’t deny your feelings of worthlessness but question your assessment. God does not leave us unequipped & each person has been given gifts to serve (Eph 4). Your blog demonstrates that you are capable. Suffering & affliction can bring us down low but God does not allow it for no good thing but Satan would want us to think otherwise having us believe that living by the values of this world is far more profitable.

To have the writings of Spurgeon & Scripture/Jesus is to have light in a dark place with encouragement to live by faith in a world of despair.

Depressed Christian said...

It's true that each of us have been given gifts to serve. But there is a difference between having the gifts and being able to administer them yourself. Passages like Eph 4 are ideal. The reason admonitions like this are there is precisely because churches weren't doing that.

Our churches aren't perfect today and don't do this well. The message that is usually issued is to people who merely sit in the pews and aren't motivated to use their gifts. I'm motivated to use my gifts, but generally fail when I do. Either I'm not gifted or I'm not able to administer my gifts very effectively.

If I teach a Bible class, for example, I would expect students. I've been told I need to develop a reputation yet I don't have the first clue how to do that. Being able to develop a reputation is some necessary gift that I don't have and God hasn't provided anyone to lend their gift in that regard. Therefore, I can only conclude that God doesn't want me teaching a Bible class.