Have you ever been disillusioned? You have hopes and dreams in a person or organization that you think will lead to great things only to find out that the person or organization had major flaws. Sometimes that leads to bitterness; sometimes that leads to strength. Ralph Ellison ran into disillusionment. He dreamed of getting an education and applied to Tuskegee Institute twice before he got in. There he discovered that this university had its own class system. Then he hoped in the Communist party, only to be disillusioned during World War II. He didn’t dwell on his disillusionment, though, he used it as the basis for a book called The Invisible Man which dealt with racism and its alienating effect. It won an National Book Award in 1953.
I think Christians are disillusioned at times. They go to church. They recognize their sin. They repent. They confess Christ as Savior. And then…nothing changes. They don’t grow in their faith. Oh, we could blame them, but we also have to recognize that in the church sometimes we try so hard to evangelize new people that we forget the need to disciple them. The sermons in church rarely go beyond reminding people that they need to turn to Jesus. In this constant repeat of what they have already learned, people slip away from the church because they think they’ve learned it all. The author of Hebrews points out that we need to get deeper in our teaching and learning. “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” (Hebrews 6:1-2)
These are the basics in the Christian life. We need to understand them. They are like the basics in any sport. As I write this, Spring Training is about to begin for Major League baseball teams. They will go over the basics of the game. Pitching, hitting, catching. They will then extend the basics a little: how to play defensively; which base to throw the ball to; how to play offensively; bunting; running. As Spring Training continues and the season progresses, things will get more intense: how do I play right field against this batter? What are the right defensive plays in different situations? How do I bat against this pitcher? Can we try to steal bases against this pitcher or this catcher? Sometimes trick plays are added, although there aren’t a whole lot of them in baseball. Hours will be spent watching film and seeing how various players react in different situations. It gets intense. We don’t really have a plan for that in the church. Too often we stick with repentance, faith in God, praying, and understanding the basic truths.
There is more to the Christian life. We need that “more.” We need to move beyond those basics and start living by the grace of God. We need to practice sacrifice to help others. We need to learn how to forgive others in a redemptive way. We need to learn how to deal with persecution so that our persecutors will see our love and our grace and be moved to turn to God. We need a faith that lasts seven days a week and not just Sunday morning. We need to grow in our faith so much that we can handle an unreasonable boss with grace; that we can work through differences with our spouse; that we can show our kids the grace of Jesus in our dealings with them when the natural reaction would be to explode in rage. We need a maturity in Christ that comes from solid teaching and life experience. Live Christ in all you do today and begin (or continue) that walk to maturity.
Oh God, I do need more of You in my life. Teach me grace, compassion, and love for those You love.