It is said that Thomas Edison made 1000 attempts at making an incandescent bulb before he finally succeeded. His persistence in making all of those attempts is mind-blowing, but something that every person can learn from. The old adage, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” could certainly be applied to Edison’s mentality. Edison had it in his mind to create an incandescent bulb fit for indoor usage. But making that bulb did not happen easily, nor did it happen quickly. It took time, effort, resources, and patience before the product was successful.
By and large, Christians today want the product of godly, holy Christianity without the process of achieving that. They want the product of maturity without going through the maturing process. They want the product of wisdom without going through the process of procuring it. They want the product of God’s blessings without the process of receiving them.
All Christians must understand that God expects us to put work into our Christianity. There is a process of sanctification that God desires to put all of us through. Yes, it is God who is at work in us to both desire His good pleasure, and do His good pleasure, but it is us who must actively do it. Every command God gives His people today through His Word targets our will. Whenever we are confronted with a command, we are confronted with a choice to obey or disobey. We can choose to disobey, but with that disobedience comes consequences. If we disobey and suffer the consequences, we gripe and complain to God. That is what the children of Israel did after they failed to go into the Promised Land at the wise counsel of Joshua and Caleb. Because of their choice to disobey God, they suffered the consequences of 40 years in the wilderness, and death for all but Joshua and Caleb. However, when we choose to obey, blessing always follows, in some way, shape, or form.
Every Christian ought to strive to be the best Christian he/she can possibly be, but this product requires a process. It does not come automatically, easily, or quickly. Because of this we get easily frustrated. Our frustration is due to the fact that we are terribly consumer-driven, sensual, and results oriented people. We want the product immediately, and if/when it does not happen immediately, we get frustrated, discouraged, and then give up. This is the reason why most of Christianity today has little influence on our culture, why we are spiritually anemic, why we are fruitless and ineffective for Christ, and why we are lethargic and apathetic in church ministry.
1 Timothy 4:12-16 indicates that the disciplines of Christianity are to consume the life of the believer. In pursuing them, we are pursuing Jesus Christ. That passage gives eight commands, not only for pastors, but also for every believer to be engaged in and consumed by. The problem is, we want the product that following those commands yields, but we do not want the process that it requires.
Every Christian is called upon to be morally holy as God is holy. Every believer is to be pure, and just, and loving, and kind, and…. These things require work, hard work, persistent work, Spirit-enabled work, humble work, and patient work.
This world does not need any more mediocre, excuse-giving, blame shifting Christians. This world needs to see Christians who are humbly striving to be like Christ, allowing the Scriptures to permeate every part of their being, and who will, through both life and lips, proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to this lost and dying world. May we all strive to be this kind of Christian for the glory of God.