When you envision the type of Christian you hope to be like one day, what do you see? Perhaps you see a former pastor, missionary, or Sunday School teacher. Perhaps you envision your grandparent, mother, or father. Another question worth considering is how do you hope to become that Christian? What is keeping you from becoming the type of Christian God wants you to be?
I have been fortunate enough to be blessed with many godly mentors growing up. I had no shortage of examples of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Knowing what a godly, mature Christian looks like has never been a problem for me. Knowing how to become one is an entirely different matter.
In my mind, the biggest enemy that prevented me from fulfilling my spiritual potential had always been my lack of spiritual discipline. I believed my lack of discipline was the source of all my spiritual woes. “If only I could spend more time in the Word, if only I could spend more time in prayer, then I can become that person God wants me to be.”
However, I have recently come to realize that the ultimate source of my spiritual struggles is not found in my doing (or lack thereof) as much as it is in my believing. My lack of discipline is merely a symptom of a greater problem—the problem of unbelief. Whenever my will is immobilized it is because my heart is not sufficiently believing, trusting, or resting in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To the degree that I am believing in the Gospel, my heart, hands, and feet will be moved to joyfully serve, obey, and follow after my Lord. In other words, what separates mature Christians from immature ones is the ability to sincerely sing, “Jesus loves me this I know.”
We talked about this Gospel growth principle on Sunday (click here for “Promiscuous Love” sermon) as we looked into Jesus’ encounter with the prostitute who washed his feet with her tears and hair. In Luke 7:47, Jesus lays out the foundation for Christian obedience. To summarize, he says, “Little forgiveness translates into little love. Big forgiveness translates into big love.” The prostitute loved much because she was forgiven much. That is, she was able to love Jesus scandalously and extravagantly because she could say with all of her heart, mind, and soul, “Jesus loves me this I know.” This Gospel saturated every inch of her being, leaving her no doubt that her holy God cherished her deeply, immensely, and perfectly. Such a rapturous thought compelled her to love Jesus without measure and shame. The forgiven prostitute is a perfect example of how greater Gospel comprehension produces God-exalting, cross-carrying disciples.
As an aside, I am in no way down-playing the importance of spiritual disciplines for the Christian life. After all, how can we grow in our Gospel comprehension unless we are regularly and frequently studying, imbibing, and meditating on the Word where this Gospel is found? However, let us be wary of using the means of grace as a way to merit grace. When you use the means of grace to merit grace, than you’ve completely missed the point! Instead, may our gracious God reveal unto us the enormity of our sin and the even greater wonder of his grace each time we encounter him in his Word. May that revelation then enflame our hearts to love Jesus like this forgiven prostitute, to love him in a way that defies expectation and goes beyond the bare minimum.
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