Thursday, June 29, 2017

Sometimes There's Fallout

One of the exhilarating and perhaps frustrating aspects of maturing in Christ is that it doesn’t happen right away.

That very first point of initial regeneration is not just the beginning of something new, but the ending of something old. And that ending of something old, like interest on a 30-year mortgage, is what we spend most of our time, early on, paying off.

Old habits die hard, even under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, and there is much under the tip of each person’s iceberg that God has to torch.

Yes, we are redeemed in Christ, but the big word “sanctification,”—meaning the process of constant regeneration into God’s way of thinking, seeing, hearing and being—is a life long process.

At first, we may appear to actually regress. It’s like a house remodel: things have to get messy before they can be set to rights in an improved and perfected way.

God doesn’t snap us out of everything in one supernatural swoop.

For me, the alcohol was the first to go, and it went quickly. But lest I rest on the laurels of sobriety, God showed me that sobriety was a now-removed obstacle to clarity for the tough work ahead: that of submitting to God so that He could cut the cord, inch by inch, that bound me to past emotional, mental and false religious perspectives.

It is a volley of back and forth as we internalize, in fits and starts, the life in Christ over time.

Hence the frequent lob at Christians that we are hypocrites (as if people in the secular world are not hypocrites to their declared ideology or value system. They are one-hundred percent consistent?).

Just last night, reading Paul Tournier, I came across this:

“I am always surprised that such severe criticism is made of a person when it can be shown that he has contradicted himself, and that we are all so afraid of being caught doing so ourselves. We should have to have become fossilized, never to contradict ourselves, for our hearts and our entire lives are contradictory.”

So let me apologize in advance to those who see Christians as not always representing Christ well.

And let me also point out that when Christians do remain steadfast and obedient, the world often negatively judges that too because the world does not share, accept or even want to understand the Christian perspective and worldview. 

So be it. 

There is nothing we can do to influence a person or social ideology that has no desire to change or to respect the Christian perspective. We respond by simply remaining loyal to God and persistent in prayer.

Thus, the reality of life with Christ will result in some fallout.

Have I acted immaturely and worldly as a Christian? Yes. 

Have I hurt others as a Christian? Yes. 

Have I spoken pridefully and acted selfishly? Yes and yes.

But have I been able to now see all of that for what it is: Christian immaturity, rebelliousness towards God and being more comfortable with my way of dysfunction than God’s way of function? Yes, indeed.

Just as I came to God in abhorrence of the sin I lived in before Christ, I come to God in abhorrence of the sin I have allowed myself to live in—outside of His will—by my own choice, as a Christian.

But I am able, as the years progress and maturity takes hold, to see sin tendency and temptation more and more, and stand against it through the growing knowledge and experience of Christ and His Holy Spirit.

That is why today, this very day, I would not handle situations the way I did 16, 10, 8, five, or even one year ago. I wouldn’t think the same way about something as I may have just one week ago.

And just as I am to forgive others, I am to forgive myself also for these infractions because I know Christ forgives me when I unwaveringly agree with Him that I have sinned. Only when I truly agree with Him (signaling that I am no longer loyal to the sin instead of Him) am I then able to move on from that way of operating.

And so I brush myself off, treat each day and encounter as a fresh one and whisper to God,

“Let’s do this. Again. And again and again until we get it right in Christ. Let’s keep on keeping on for as long as it takes. I’m in it for the long haul, and I know it goes without saying, you are too. 
So then, where are we? And where are we headed?”

copyright Barb Harwood

“For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:4-5

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