Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Most “Christians” see themselves as ‘saved.’  They move from lost to saved in one motion.  Something happens and suddenly they believe now they’re walking around as people who used to be lost, but now they’re saved. 

Disciples are different.  We used to go our own way, and now we go God’s way.  The first change in our lives when we go “all-in” is that we change direction.  We become people who WANT to live for God, and die for Him (if we are so blessed). 

Then comes the moment of ‘conversion,’ when we are born again through baptism (John 3.5).  Having first committed to God to be disciples of Jesus, now we have our sins washed away and the Holy Spirit enters us (Acts 2.38) and we become parts of God’s spiritual temple, with Him living in us.  We become “new creatures” (Romans 6), dead to sin and alive to Christ. 

Babies in the spiritual sense are just like babies in the physical sense.  We eat and we grow.  As babies in the physical world grow, we talk about what they are becoming, and we let their unique qualities reveal themselves.  As new spiritual babies, we start out as new little ones, and then we grow.  We’ll be tomorrow from what we were yesterday, for we are getting stronger, wiser, more loving, and more durable.  We EXPECT to change as we grow, even our personalities! 

So let’s consider ourselves differently than the world does, and even differently than typical “Christians.”  These people talk about themselves as if they are made a certain way, and that’s just the way it is.  But we are being made into something as we develop faith-muscles and grow stronger through the work of God. 

Yesterday we cried at small things … tomorrow it will take much more to upset us.
Yesterday we had very little patience … tomorrow we will have more
Yesterday we couldn’t do without … tomorrow we will fast, we will give, and we will smile
Yesterday a slight insult upset us … tomorrow we’ll endure beatings and not even flinch

This is us becoming strong.  We are becoming the kinds of people who can weather a storm and stand strong (Matthew 7.24-27). 

So how does this happen?  It happens when we submit.  When we make it a habit to submit to God’s will instead of our old selfish desires, we grow.  Read that sentence again: As we make it a habit to submit to God’s will instead of our old selfish desires, we grow.  We become teleios.  We become otherful.  We become people of character, not weak people who cave in to every desire of our flesh, or every impulse of our physical selves. 

On Sundays we’ve been studying love from Romans 12, and are spending some time in 12:12 especially.  This passage below has several of the same words as in our passage, and it also tells us something about how we become this way:

Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus,
- and -We exult in hope of God’s glory.
And not only this, but
We also exult in our tribulations,
knowing that:
  • tribulation brings about perseverance; and
  • perseverance, proven character; and
  • proven character, hope;  and
  • hope doesn’t disappoint…
…because God’s love has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 5.1-5

How do we BECOME people who are not disappointed?  Develop Hope, which comes from our character, which comes from our perseverance (hupomone) which comes from our tribulations (thlipsis).  And that is why we can rejoice in hope and sing in prison, and patiently endure beatings, and mistreatment from others – because we know this is developing us into something like Jesus! 

Of course in our case, we often have to ‘volunteer’ for tribulation.  Our lives are very comfortable here in OC.  So how can we develop this strength and character even here?  We submit to God’s will.  We abandon our comfort to reach out to the lost.  We work hard when we could be resting.  We give when we could be self-indulgent.  We endure when we don’t have to.  We take time to devote ourselves to one another.  We ‘volunteer’ to “Go,” to “Seek” … just like Jesus left heaven and came to earth.  Just like Jesus accepted death on a cross.  We choose the narrow door – the hard way – the way of love. 

Our tribulations bring us perseverance, which develops our character and “proves” it … and then we see our hope shining brightly and making it possible for us to fight on another day. 

What about you?  Will you deliberately choose to submit to God and let Him lead you down the narrow path, or will you join the flocks of sheep without good shepherds and be lulled into a fat, lazy complacency and the frailty that comes with it? 

It’s God’s grace that gives us the choice: we can be spiritual wimps, or we can be men and women of character, strength, grace, dignity & love. 

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