Live Your Life With Godly Ferocious Intensity
The deepest desire of my heart is to make my life count for Christ. It has been that way ever since my faith really came online around age 20, but increasingly so as I age over the the years. Reading works like Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper and Leaders Who Last by Dave Kraft, among others, has helped me to gain a greater understanding of how to prioritize and make my life contribution be worthwhile. Nothing makes me shudder with fear more than the thought that by the time I hit my deathbed, I will have wasted precious time on earth. I want to make my life count. I want to make a difference in the world for Jesus. I want to have such an impact on the lives of others that my stamp on their hearts compels them to live for Jesus with reckless abandon.
I do not think that this kind of ferocious intensity is a bad thing. Certainly, I know that at times it can cause me to stress too much, be unable to relax, or just be a general nut. There is a place for sabbath and rest and doing things that are relatively meaningless in life. I get that, and I support and encourage those things. But my general feeling is that the Christian Church in North America is lacking in zeal and is simply too caught up in worldly things.
Please don’t hear me being too condemning. The main reason I am so driven is because I know how apathetic I am. As much as my main goal is to make my life count, the guy in the mirror is also the biggest enemy to that mission. It drives me crazy how often I have my priorities out of whack, how easily I get complacent, and how frequently I miss God-appointed opportunities to make a difference. I find that my default mode (likely just my sinful nature at work) is so bent towards the path of least resistance that nothing short of a dogfight with my own self is sufficient to overcome it. As soon as I let up, I go right back into being a lazy, comfortable Christian.
The Bible speaks in this way quite frequently. God is not ignorant to the natural heart of man. He knows we are defected in this way. No wonder the language of Scripture is so dramatic when it comes to fighting for a living, thriving faith…
Colossians 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith…
2 Timothy 2:3 Endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Matthew 5:29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.
Anyone who thinks the Christian life is one of empty platitudes and boring rituals is terribly mistaken. The Christian life is war. It is a daily battle against the temptations of the world, our sinful flesh, and the devil. It takes focus, self-discipline, and a holy, ferocious intensity to really live it out. People speak of being “on fire for God”, and they usually mean an emotional high from an experience that inevitably wears off. The trick of Christian living is to keep the fires of passion for God burning at full strength, fuelled by the truth of God’s Word and time alone with Jesus. It is not easy to do, but it is our calling as believers and followers of Christ.
I do not think the term “godly ferocious intensity” is too strong. First, the passion must be godly. Ambition can be either good or bad, depending on what a person is ambitious for and also why they are ambitious. Christians can be ambitious for the wrong things or with the wrong motives but still appear very holy on the outside. We must be sold out for only one thing, and with only one motive: the glory of God, because he is worthy.
A godly ambition is a good thing, but the stronger it is, the better! A godly ambition ought to be intense. It should give us a compelling reason to get out of bed in the morning. It should motivate us beyond our moments of weakness. It should drive us to go beyond our comfort zone. The pursuit of the glory of God needs to be like a fire in our bones that we can’t escape, burning with an intensity that radiates the light of Christ into the world with dazzling brilliance.
In oder to have that kind of intensity in a godly ambition, a Christian has to be ferocious in their fight to keep it alive. The human heart is prone to laziness and selfishness. It’s default mode is the easy way out. But the Christian life is taking the hard road, not the easy road. This means it is our responsibility as disciples of Jesus to fight for the fire of passion for God, and to do it ferociously. Anything that throws water on the flames of this desire needs to be met with spiritual fists. We need to fight to keep the passion for God’s glory alive. It won’t happen naturally. But as we exercise faith and self-discipline, the Holy Spirit will give us the power we need to achieve victory over our sinful passions (or lack of godly ones). In this way, the Christian life is war – a bloody battle to overcome the flesh and live in the power of the Spirit.
This is the only way to truly make your life count: to commit to an all-out pursuit of God’s glory in your life and in the lives of others around you, and to fight tooth-and-nail to feed that fire and keep it burning hot. I know I don’t do this very well, but I can honestly say that I’m giving it a good shot and hope to get better as the Lord helps me to grow and become more like him.
The Christian life is not boring. We believers know the greatest Person in the universe and have been invited by him into the greatest work in this universe. The spread of God’s kingdom and the glory of his name is God’s number 1 priority, and he chooses to accomplish these goals through mere humans like you and I. We are a part of the greatest thing happening in the history of the world, and yet it is so often met with a yawn. Fellow believers – wake up! Your life is only getting shorter each day, and the opportunities to make your life count for Jesus are passing you by. Don’t let that happen! Get up! Fight! Stoke the embers that are growing cold and ask God to light you aflame again. The time is too short. The days pass too quickly. We only get one lap around this track called life. Run your race as if going for the prize. One day, when you meet Jesus face to face, it will all be worth it.