Is it possible that our life contains problems because we invite them in? I know there are things that happen as a natural result of a fallen world but I wonder how many of our difficulties are of our own choosing? The Christian life is not any path that we choose but the specific path that our Father has laid out for us. Jesus referred to this as the narrow way. In fact, he told us it is a much different path than the broad path chosen my the vast majority of people:
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)
Sometimes we live our life as if anything goes, inviting trouble and hardship in as we miss the narrow path. In other words we try to choose our own way of living, our own style, our own standards. We become grace abusers. But we have been given the Word of God for a reason. This is God's standard that we are to follow. Jesus told us not to chase after the things the people of the world chase after. We are on a different path. Paul warned Timothy of this same thing.
After warning his younger friend away from pursuing wealth for personal gain he tells him:
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. (1 Timothy 6:11)
Flee from the things that lead us down the broad path and pursue the things of the Kingdom. Notice he said pursue. There is effort involved. Not to earn our salvation because that is a free gift, but to gain a godly life. These are the things that take some effort on our part. It is impossible for us to do this work in ourselves but when we pursue it the Spirit completes it in us. The Christian life is not a free for all but a pursuing after the character of Jesus. We have to desire it. It must become our greatest desire, to be like Jesus.
Look at this simple list. Righteousness is to live in a right relationship with our Father; he is the authority and we are the obedient children. Godliness is doing what Jesus did; kindness and compassion are part of this. Faith comes down to trusting and acting upon the promises of God. Love binds everything together, is the motivation for it all and without it we have obtained nothing. Endurance is carrying on with God's will even in the face of losing our life. It's one of the greatest deficiencies in the Body right now, the desire to press on despite any cost. Gentleness is often what we lack in North America as well because we are not a gentle society and society seems to have a greater hold on us than the Spirit.
What I am saying is that there are not enough of us making the effort in pursuing these things of the Kingdom. We seem to want to make it up as we go along, adopting little philosophies from different streams of thought, setting our own life goals, choosing the wrong desires for our heart. As we set aside the Word of God, Christianity becomes a make-it-up-as-you-go-along religion but that is not the Father's design or will and it is not part of the narrow way. It is not whatever we want or whatever we think is best according to our opinion. Opinion has nothing to do with it. Our walk with Jesus is according to the Word of God and anything else is just inviting trouble into our lives. Turn your back on any other pursuit and instead pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. In other words, pursue Jesus.