Some of us like to finish things. By “some of us,” I mean Type-A personalities like myself! We like to mark things off lists, close back covers of books, follow schedules, and meet goals before deadlines. We get impatient when the drive takes longer than planned; we like to arrive.
Because of my Type-A personality, certain gospel scenes challenge me. Like when Jesus and the disciples are heading off for some much-needed downtime but end up serving a big meal to a huge crowd (Mark 6:30-44). Or when a couple of disciples are trying to get to Emmaus but a guy shows up to walk with them and they end up stopping to eat along the way (Luke 24:13-35). *Spoiler alert*: The guy is Jesus, and they never make it to Emmaus.
There’s another, less tangible, aspect of life in which I would like to arrive: spiritual maturity.
I would like to achieve sanctification.
I would like to finish learning through trials.
I would like to wisely answer everyone who comes to me with difficult spiritual questions.
I take this desire to the Lord and He says (without actual words), “Not gonna happen.”
So for all the other Type-As out there, it helps to know we’re in good company. Late in his career (according to the scholars), the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Philippi. Look what he said.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 3:12-14
If Paul hadn’t arrived,
we can’t be surprised
that we haven’t either.
Paul—the first cross-cultural missionary, the author of Romans (our gold standard for theology), the most prolific writer in the New Testament—hadn’t arrived. It should be no surprise, therefore, that neither have we.
What’s the point of all this striving? Well, in the Christ-life, the process is the point. The journey, the experience, the learning along the way…that’s the whole reason we’re doing it. Yes, we have Heaven as a destination, but few of us are rushing to get there. It’s a little surprising to realize, but God doesn’t want us to rush. Instead, we live out this present life with a purpose.
And what is that purpose? If you’ve read my writing for long, you know the answer. It’s our growth and His glory.
Every incremental movement along this journey makes us more like Him. (The theological word is sanctification.) The more we become like Him, the closer to Him we find ourselves. As we grow in Christlikeness, He is glorified by our obedience, our representation of Him to the world, and our ever-expanding words of praise.
It’s like the asymptotic line in geometry: always approaching zero but never arriving there. (I had to ask my high-schooler what that line was called. I drew a picture. She googled it. Why didn’t I think of that?) Except Jesus is, like, the opposite of zero, but you get the idea.
This process…I think it’s why the New Testament authors often use the verb “walk” for the Christ-life.
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. –Ephesians 5:1-2
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. –Colossians 1:9-10
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. –1 John 1:7
Nothing in “walk”
In walking, there’s action, movement, a coordinated functioning. It’s deliberate and requires effort. Nothing in the verb “walk” implies arrival. It’s not static or sedentary. It’s about going.
Sometimes we walk quickly. Sometimes we stroll. Sometimes we lurch along, barely staying upright. But we’re still moving. (more about walking)
That’s the call: to walk. To keep walking. To move forward…closer to Jesus and closer to Heaven.
Are we there yet?
No. But we’re getting closer every day.
What about you? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this life-long process of sanctification. Just drop me a note in the comments below! Or…
If you’ve blogged about the journey/process of the Christ-Life, Julie Dibble and I would love for you to join our blog party! Just click on the link below, and we’ll add your post to the collection. All we ask is that you include a link back to this post or Julie’s in your blog post…and click through to some of our other contributors. Thanks!
Here’s Julie’s post about the journey: The Woman Behind the Mask. Now add yours!
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