Do you ever feel like you?re an incomplete Christian, like something vital got left out of the ingredient list when you were put together as a Christian?
Sometimes other people just seem like they have more humility, or more love, or more boldness in witness than I do. Did I miss something? Was I supposed to raise my hand and specifically ask for a dash of patience or helping of love somewhere after my conversion?
I?ve particularly struggled with this when listening to other people?s testimonies, even listening to other pastors describe some defining experience in ministry. I sit in the audience and hear and think, Nothing like that has ever happened to me. Did I miss something? Why am I not like that?
Maybe you can relate. Maybe you?ve watched others live the Christian life and thought or felt that your life was comparatively lacking somewhere, in some way. Now I won?t deny that there can be a godly stirring up or inspiration that comes from hearing the testimonies of other Christians or watching the example of their lives. But that kind of inspiration comes with hope, a sense of God is going to enable me to pursue greater Christ-likeness, greater holiness. The other effect, the unhelpful one, is the one that makes you feel inferior, lacking, and a general all around failure as a Christian.
I?m learning to apply two truths when I?m in that moment of comparison and discouragement. One is to remember that no Christian, no matter how godly, is a perfect Christian. The person you compare yourself to has, in some other area of their life, real weaknesses and real sins. They are not the perfect Christian we perceive them to be. Stop comparing yourself. There?s no point ? we?re all imperfect, no matter how much we can polish one side of our lives up for public display! As someone once said, there?s only been one perfect Christian in the history of our faith, and He was so good they name the whole thing after Him.
But the second thing I?m learning to remember in those moments is this: there are no incomplete Christians either. None of us are perfect, but none of us are incomplete. Let me let Jonathon Edwards explain:
?A true convert, the moment he is converted, is possessed not of one or two, but of all holy principles, and all gracious dispositions. They may be feeble, indeed, like the faculties and powers of an infant child, but they are all truly there, and will be seen flowing out progressively in every kind of holy feeling and behavior toward both God and man. In ever real convert there are as many graces as there were in Jesus Christ himself.? (Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits, p.279).
Do you see what he means? If you?re a genuine Christian, the new nature God has created in you at the moment of regeneration, though underdeveloped and always imperfect in this life, is the complete new nature created in Jesus? likeness. There are no Christians born with spiritual birth defects. No, you and I will never see the Holy Spirit?s work perfected in us in this life ? but neither are we missing anything vital for godliness and Christian living.
2 Peter 1:3: ?His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.?
+photo by visualpanic
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