Don’t look at other Christians tonight. They’ll just disappoint you by failing you, because, like me, they’re just sinful people saved by God’s grace. Don’t look at them. Look at Jesus, out of His love [to save] you, coming from the glories of heaven to be that weak, little baby in the manger!
That quote from my Christmas Eve message at Blanchard Warrenville is true–but it sticks in my craw, nonetheless. There is no more common excuse to refuse to believe in Christ in the western world today than to look at Christians. “They’re hypocrites”, say the disenchanted twenty and thirty-somethings leaving the organized Church in droves all across this nation. “They’re not believable.” “They don’t look any different than anyone else.” Our critics in society may be right in visual observation. But that’s not the way it’s supposed to be…
It’s clear Christ meant for Christians to be inspiring, contagious, devoted disciplemakers. But most of the time, we’re not. We’re just normal, imperfect, weighed down, preoccupied human beings with a unique difference from all other human beings–the mind-bending capacity and Scriptural assurance that we are all, by the Holy Spirit’s power, in the process of being fully formed into Christ’s likeness.
And while the work is guaranteed, I don’t think it’s always meant to be shouted from the rooftops or the pulpit (but it is for some…). God has other very quiet, compelling ways to declare his maturing work in people. That’s why being in relationships with people who don’t know him is so very important to the saturation of the Christ’s saving gospel throughout societies and cultures. When skeptics point the finger of disbelief, it’s probably an indicator that they aren’t in a meaningful relationship with a Christian who’s humble, Spirit-filled, or committed to practicing the disciplines of the faith–like Bible reading, prayer, fasting, solitude and Sabbath. I know some people who are like this at Blanchard Alliance Church. They inspire me all the time as a pastor and fellow disciple.
In light of these “salt-of-the-earth” people, I’ve compiled a list of key verses that encourage me about the work God has promised to do in me to help me become like Jesus. As you read them, I hope it’s clear that it’s God work–on his timetable. Perhaps you’re stuck and discouraged and a bit of a skeptic about Christians today, too. I hope these verses of Scripture inspire you, reinvigorate you, remind you of God’s promised work in you to help you get back on track with your faith.
- It is for freedom that Christ came to set you free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Gal. 5:1)
- Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Gal. 5:25)
- It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Eph. 4:11-13)
- Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Gal. 6:9)
- And you also were included in Christ, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of His glory.” (Eph. 1:13-14)
What Christian do you know right now that you can observe and even document this mysterious, mystical transformation toward Christlikeness?
By all means, look at them. Be inspired by them. Remember the maturation process is not a race, it’s at God’s pace. Your progression toward maturity will look different than another Christian’s.
I hope you see this transformation in yourself. How do you see God’s maturing work in your own life? Is there sin that’s tripping you up? Confess it, get help from a growing Christian and rely on the Holy Spirit to keep his promises. And always be inspired by Christ’s example and, in faith, be confident in what he’s come to transform you to become.