What Are You Excited About?
Whenever the first fall chill graces the air and the smell of molting leaves comes swirling in, there is one thing that my mind inevitably turns to: college football. Having graduated from an institution in the venerable Southeastern Conference, Saturdays were a big part of my college experience. I can well remember the excitement that was in the air. Even now, though I am far from the land where college football reigns supreme (I now have a new phenomenon to grapple with: Eagles fans), when I see leaves yellowing, I look forward to crisp fall afternoons watching a good ball game.
But what are you excited about? What do you look forward to? What really gets you going, motivates you and causes you to plan, prepare, schedule and yearn for? These are questions that should cause us to stop a moment and reflect.
In thinking about what gets us excited, Dr. D.A. Carson gives us wisdom here(as usual). I came across this gem in editing Dr. Carson's work for an upcoming volume:
"I have been teaching more decades now that I can count and if I have learned anything from all of this teaching, its this: my students...learn what I'm excited about. So within the church of the living God, we must become excited about the gospel. That's how we pass on our heritage. If, instead, the gospel increasingly becomes for us that which we assume, then we will, of course, assent to the correct creedal statement. But, at this point, the gospel is not what really captures us. Rather, is a particular form of worship or a particular style of counseling, or a particular view on culture, or a particular technique in preaching, or - fill in the blank. Then, ultimately, our students make that their center and the generation after us loses the gospel. As soon as you get to the place where the gospel is that which is nearly assumed, you are only a generation and a half from death".
How easy this is to do, is it not? How often we can hear words like "imputation" and "justification" and "union with Christ" and not get excited. Our spiritual stupor affects every area of our lives. We become like the Beatles' nowhere man, living in his nowhere land; in the same way, we're not quite excited about the gospel but sin has lost its sweetness too. So we muddle on, waiting for next year's vacation.
Thus, worship becomes dry and dull. Preaching becomes a topic of discussion, in which rhetoric is critiqued with precision and skill but our hearts left untouched by truth that may have been delievered clumsily. Singing praise becomes glancing out the window, wondering what to wear after church. Prayer and Bible study truly become disciplines which, while dutifully performed, have become arid and plodding.
What are we to do? Should we seek the latest experience, making emotions like a drug which never quite returns us to the original high? Buckle down and FINALLY get serious about Bible study? Feel guilty for a few minutes?
No, I don't think so. And (hopefully) without sounding pedantic and patrionizing, I think Dr. Carson gives us the solution that we all know but have such a hard time praticing: we come again to the gospel. We rejoice in the finished work of the second and last Adam, the Man from heaven, who lived and died in our place. We consider that we are, as Charles Wesley put it, "alive in him, our living Head, and clothed with righteousness divine." We rejoice at our union with Christ and all the blessings and benefits that do accompany and flow from it. We read about this in his finished word and we stay ourselves upon its all-sufficient promises. We focus our minds on these things, mediate on them and the greyness of life begins to be radiant again.
Of course, this will ebb and flow. Some of the sweetest gospel lessons are in the doldrums of the Christian's walk. Some of the brightest rays of grace can only break through the thick, muddy clouds of providential difficulties. But, even in our day to day routine, which the world disdains as a curse, we can begin to take delight.
In other words, because of the gospel - and I mean the full-orbed glory of a whole-Bible gospel - we can begin to be excited about the right things. That doesn't mean we can't get excited about other things, no matter how trivial (like college football) or amazing (like getting married or having children or going to college). Rather, just because we are excited about the gospel will be able to rightly enjoy these other things. Pray that you will be excited about the gospel.