This afternoon I wanted to share with you a few lessons I’ve learned in recent years of my “growing young” journey. I’m not an expert in most things, to be sure, but I believe there are certain essential concepts and practices that every follower of Jesus must believe in order to grow up in their faith. These are some that I’ve been taught over the past few years, including today. I’ll share more later on.
Lesson #1 — Only the broken can be made whole. We’re all broken people but how many of us will admit it? Everyone who wants to grow must first come to an understanding of who they are on their own, apart from any divine intervention. If you own (to accept with responsibility) your brokenness, you can then develop a Christ-like humility and be receptive to learning how you can be made complete. There’s a reason our sin is step one in sharing the message of the Gospel. Until we know who we are apart from God we won’t see the need for a Savior and the constant need for and appreciation of his grace. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Lesson #2 — Grace is more sufficient than I can ever comprehend. All those who have believed in Jesus Christ really need to know and understand grace to live a happy, joyful, faithful life. The guilt of our sin and brokenness has been paid for by the sacrifice of Jesus — it’s done with in God’s sight and we’re free to follow him. But can we forgive ourselves? How do we handle personal disappointments? Grace. A knowledge of the free gift of grace despite our sin and our past brokenness is transformational in the life of a believer. In Romans, Paul spent the first two chapters talking about sin. He then wrote the next six chapters talking about grace. God is not ashamed of me. He loves me. And his grace ensures that I will always be in that love.
Lesson #3 – The church is bigger than our sanctuary. This one took years to learn. In recent years my eyes have been awakened to the presence of the universal Church, of brothers and sisters worshiping God around the world. I used to be one of those young men who tuned out when a missionary came into town, paying real attention only if they had a prop, good video, or compelling action story. But then the Lord started to open up my heart. I realized that the worship taking place in a mud hut in Kenya is not only just as valid as my air conditioned, colored-light sanctuary service but it may even be more pure and holy. My mind has been transformed by seeing, hearing and experiencing the presence, activity and — most importantly, the faith of believers in other cultures. This hit me especially hard last February in England, when the worship leader at a conference began to play “How Great is our God” and person after person of different tongues and cultures came up to the microphone to sing the chorus in their own language. I still have goosebumps thinking about it.
Lesson #4 — Every believer has a choice. If something is causing you to stumble in your following of Jesus, you have the freedom to choose not to continue interacting with that thing. If it’s political arguments, you can choose to stop engaging in political conversations. If it’s pornography, you can turn off your computer. If it’s money woes, you can choose the security of faith over the security of coin. The bottom line is, we have the power to remove obstacles and run a smooth race (see Heb 12:1). I know several believers who feel “trapped” in their sins and temptations. But God will always provide grace for sin and choice for temptation. There is always a way out of temptation (see 1 Corinthians 10:13). You just have to choose it. If you want to be mentally and emotionally free, that is.
There are many more things I’m learning but those four are big ones impressed on my heart.