Why do so many committed followers of Jesus seem to struggle with unrest, fear and anxiety? Is it possible to love Jesus, faithfully serve and fellowship with Him and still struggle with such unrest?
Yes, it is not only possible but probable. We must remember that much of the Christian life is spent reprogramming ourselves from our past habits and belief systems. That’s what sanctification does. The Holy Spirit transforms and renews our mind and tears down all those old belief systems that are opposite to who we are in Christ.
After twenty plus years of counseling I have come to the conclusion that many people who are experiencing continual unrest, fear and anxiety do so because there is a missing element in their life that they can’t seem to grasp. The missing element is the sense of significance.
Every person is born with the built-in need for significance. We see this principle at work in the baby in the crib who cries out to be picked up and held, or the young child who scribbles unintelligible drawings on a paper to show his parent. We also see it in the teenager who competes with his siblings for affection and attention of his parents. They are searching for significance.
Men often look to their work for significance and women may look for affection and attention from their husband and children for significance.
God builds in every person the need to feel significant. We have this built-in instinct from God to search for what makes me feel loved, competent and accepted. We all have this need for a sense of belongingness? So the most important question becomes where and how do I get my significance?
There are basically only two answers to this question. The first method of getting significance is from the world’s standard. Our culture often dictates the standard for acceptance and significance. It is usually tied to living in the right neighborhood, wearing the right clothes, driving the most popular car and so on. All these things seem important for our sense of significance. But when these become our basis for significance we are assuming that this will meet our need. But one day we soon realize that we are left with a sense of emptiness, still seeking the elusive significance.
It’s easy to see the potential for disaster when we buy into the culture’s standard for significance. Personal achievement and accomplished goals is a good thing. Living in harmony with our culture is important for successful interaction with society.
However, as a follower of Jesus we have a different standard for significance. Our significance is directly related to our birthright, hence the saying, "Inherent in who we are, is our ability to perform it." God wired us to get our significance from our identity in Christ. Our inherent new nature makes us complete. Since we are indwelt by the Spirit of the risen Christ we are loved, accepted, competent, and have true and lasting significance. We have a new nature that makes us significant to God regardless of our achievement, or a lack of achievement.
What my point? God designed and wired us to get all of our significance from Him. Our worth, competency, acceptance and sense of belongingness should all come from Him. If you think about it, it’s a brilliant strategy. If our significance is fully vested in the person of Christ, then whatever comes our way we still have our sense of significance. Our sense of significance is no longer dictated by things and stuff, but by God’s grace and mercy.
That doesn’t mean we no longer experience disappointment or loss, but when these things do happen, we no longer fall into depression and despair. The very person who gives us our worth and significance is unchanging and absolute. Whatever happens in life, when we fail or suffer loss, God still loves us – unconditionally.