For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [which my moral instinct condemns]. Romans 7:15
As Christians, we never fully arrive at the destination where our flesh or subconscience doesn’t want its way due to the fall of mankind (thanks, garden dwellers)~ it’s that simple. In other words, we’re never going to perfect this pure thinking followed by pure action intention we possess as a strong, mature Christian. God doesn’t even expect perfection from us. He is fully aware of our temptations, fallibility, and innate sin.
But let’s not make that our excuse.
As a pastor in a church with people who are hungry for the word and for the manifestations of God and for guidance in how to walk this out, I have the untold privilege and responsibility of seeing people begin to crawl, struggle to stand, stand upright and then take off running in their pursuit of our Lord and Savior. It’s a beautiful thing to witness, this growing up of Christians. However, just as the waitress wants to own the restaurant and the bellboy wants to manage the hotel, some baby Christians want to arrive in the knowledge and wisdom of those who have spent a lifetime studying and following Christ. Can God supernaturally equip you? Oh, yes, He can! But that should never be a substitution for doing your part.
Okay, so what is this casual Christian I referred to in the title? Before I give you my own testimony of what that looked like in tomorrow’s blog, let’s give ourselves an honest account of where we stand in the eyes of God. I’m not going to run a marathon before I know of my physical condition, right? (Okay, that’s a bad analogy. I’m never running a marathon….. but anyway)
Are you a skeptic? You’re the one who rolls your eyes when someone quotes a scripture. That’s probably not you because you’re reading a blog about Christianity… but if it is, I encourage you to give Matthew 13:15 a look. For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.
Maybe you used to be a skeptic and are now seeking. You have questions and your eyes and ears are open. Well, praise God. Find a good church that’s going to give you the answers because there are answers. I would encourage you to read John 1:35-39. Being a seeker is a beautiful thing but don’t set up house and live there. Seek and find.
So you’re a believer. Now we’re talking! Changes are happening in your personal life and things that you never gave thought to now bother you and that’s a tremendous part of growth. Celebrate but maybe not everyone in your life will celebrate with you. Sound familiar? I LIVED in this phase of Christianity for years…decades… and I caution you to stand stronger than I did. You might have shallow soil and no roots but you’re an overcomer! If you take a peek at Matthew 13:5-9, you’ll find out what your own soil looks like. Is your soil rock hard or thorny or fertile?
God is so good and now, maybe, you’re a Christ follower. Christ followers are weeding out that soil and getting rid of the thorns and stones that have plagued them from receiving any fruit. Have you ever seen a farmer toil his land? It’s not a vacation~ it’s tough work. The farmer knows it has to be done to produce a healthy crop and he’ll reap the rewards in due season. With me? Persevere.
Are you a friend of Christ? This is where the rubber meets the road. You’re good soil and your obedience is producing much fruit. That waitress didn’t own her own restaurant without the process and you can’t cut corners either. He will give you ALL you need to get there and it’s truly a beautiful journey once we just put soak in His word. 2 Thessalonians 1:3-5 says We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abound toward each other, so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer.
And, finally, we find ourselves being a disciple. We reflect Christ and we’re making a difference in the kingdom. We have influence. And that’s where we live until Jesus calls us home.