Our eleven-month old grandson Chapel, whom I affectionately refer to as Chappy, finally put his hands and knees in motion. The first time we held him, like all babies, he couldn’t do much. He can now successfully crawl from one chair to another and pull himself up. In no time at all, he will be toddling around the house … and then we get to chase him! If he’s like his daddy, he will get into more and more as he grows. His learning will be a lifelong process!
I caught myself not long ago praying that each of my seven grandchildren would become who God made them to be. Maybe it seems like semantics to you, but my perspective has shifted, and I’ve adjusted that prayer now. None of us are BECOMING who God made us to be; we ARE who God made us to be. I pray they not only know WHO they are, but WHOSE they are! “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.” (Ephesians 1:4 NLT) “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” (Psalm 139:16 NLT)
We possess ALL the gifts and talents God meant for us to have; some are being expressed and some are still lying dormant. Those of us who are in Christ are blessed with EVERY spiritual blessing! (Ephesians 1:3) Whether male or female, black, brown, or white, we are all EXACTLY who God created us to be! We have a God-given identity, and our genetic make-up was pre-determined by God.
Unfortunately, we were all born into a world under the influence of Satan, therefore the values of the world rarely match our Christian values. In an effort to uphold the standards of God, some have the unholy tendency to try to correct those with different values before they connect with them. It’s so much easier to give in to the temptation to lead with our talk rather than our walk. It’s easier to verbalize our stand before we bend our knees.
Don’t get me wrong. Taking a stand for what God stands for is vital. Yes, Jesus ate with sinners, but He did not overlook their sin. His very nature often brought about repentance (i.e. the sinful woman anointing Jesus’ feet in Luke 7). When we discount or overlook sin, whether our own or someone else’s, it sets us up as considering ourselves to be more merciful than God. That’s just not possible. It IS possible to hate what is evil and cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9) But it’s not always easy. The main ingredients have to be knowledge, an understanding of God’s word, and prayer offered in love.
The older I get the more I understand how a long, slow-cooked example is profoundly more effective than my old microwaved, knee-jerk responses. Slow is hard for people like me who spent their whole career telling fifth grade children what to do. Yet, others have proven to me that a slow and steady Christlike example speaks louder than any sermonette spouted with even the best intentions. (By the way, food from the slow cooker tastes so much better than food from the microwave! They always come back for more!)
Simply put, Christlikeness is a long, slow process. Remaining humble and loving in that process takes time. But take heart! “The Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” (2 Corinthians 3:18b) Regardless of our age, some of us are still, spiritually speaking, just now learning how to turn over. Others of us are racing around the living room, but NONE of us have grown up completely. I need others to be patient with me in my process. I’m trying to be patient with them too. Perhaps, with a little more love, patience, and time we can either initiate or enrich the lifelong process for all of us.
When we slow down and spend time with Jesus, we might gain the same kind of reputation as Peter and John. They received the ultimate compliment after testifying about Jesus to the Jewish high court. “The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. THEY ALSO recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13 NLT, emphasis mine)
Oh, Lord, help us to be known as people who have been with Jesus! Help our children to know who You made them to be. Let us be patient, loving, and understanding of others, but give us the courage to stand up for what God stands for. It’s so easy to let our mouths run out of sync with Your love. Give us wisdom, and teach us to connect before we correct. Correct us when we try to be someone else’s Holy Spirit. Break our hearts for what breaks yours, and give us the perfect blend of grace and truth. In Jesus name, Amen!
“We are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21 NLT)