It seems to happen with me more than my wife. I go to the store to pick up a couple of things. On the way, she texts me to add something else to my list. I add it and begin shopping. While I’m in the aisle, I notice something else that would be good, so I pick that up and notice that I need to get two other things so I can make it. As I’m picking up one of the new things I need to make the extra thing I added to my list, I ask myself, “did I forget to put eggs on my list?” And on it goes until a quick two-item shopping list explodes into a two weeks’ worth of groceries shopping marathon.
Perhaps that’s how a new Christian feels. They have an issue that we have shown them how Jesus can help by turning to him in faith. Once they turn to Christ, we remind them that following Christ means a lifestyle that changes for the better. Then we start asking them Bible questions to show them their need to study God’s word. Perhaps Peter described it best. “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8)
I think the key to what Peter is saying is that we need to be in a constant state of growth. The Christian life is not the one time sprint up the steps in Philadelphia so we can raise our arms in triumph ala Rocky Balboa. While Peter writes it like these qualities are a straight line, in reality, they are more like a long spiraling loop. In the long run, each of these steps feeds back into the loop. For example, more knowledge can increase faith; self-control creates more goodness. The result is that our commitment to Christ is never a completed work; we always have more growing to do. When we think we have it made, that is when we become ineffective and unproductive in our walk with Christ.
We need to remember that our commitment to Christ, our life with Him, is not a quick and easy, pick and choose what parts of Christianity we will believe. It’s not a two-item grocery list. We can’t follow Jesus just so we’ll go to heaven when we die. We follow Jesus as we ask Him to take control of our lives and become our Lord. As we live each day, we learn more and more of what that means. As we grow closer to Jesus our goals change. We don’t want things so much as we want God’s presence. As we get God’s presence in our lives, His grace changes us into becoming the people He wants us to be. He adds goodness to our faith, knowledge to our goodness, and, well, you can look up the rest. Many of us turn to Jesus to help us in a difficult time. God’s grace begins changing us the minute we turn to Him and before long, we are either completely in His embrace or we have run from His love. Don’t run away as God seeks to mold you into the best possible you who can be effective and productive in sharing the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Oh Lord, I admit that sometimes I realize that You have taken me so much farther than I expected or wanted when I first turned to You. You have taken me out of my comfort zone and forced me to rely on You so that I can be effective and productive in my work for You. Let me embrace the joy of living for You each day.