I’m one who tends to focus on the product. I like closure. I feel good about accomplishment. I like to achieve a goal. That’s why ministry is a continuing challenge for me. It’s never “done.” There’s always more to do: more studying I should do, more prayers I should pray, more messages I should preach, more articles/blogs to write, more meetings to attend, more mentoring and coaching to do, more people with whom to share faith, more churches to help, more goals to pursue. After all, we’re part of God’s work in this world— and this world needs all we can give and then some!
So here’s a question: is a disciple ever “finished”? Do we ever arrive at the point of perfection in Christ? This is a huge theological debate for some, but let me quickly say, “No!” In the midst of the “Jesus Movement” of the 1970’s there was a bumper sticker that had the letters: PBPWMBGIFWMY. Know what it means? “Please Be Patient With Me Because God Isn’t Finished With Me Yet.” Not nearly so simple as “Honk if you love Jesus!” (Of course, when you would honk, the driver would be angry with you for honking, forgetting their sticker… but I digress!)
Spiritual vitality does not come from arriving at “destination perfection” in this life, but from continuing on the life-long journey of faith with Jesus. That journey is possible because of God’s victory at Easter. Easter is all about God’s New Thing—breaking death’s power through the Life-Giving, Life- Changing Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And one dimension of that victory is bringing change at the very core of our being. And that change is a process. Jesus did not die and rise from the grave so we could remain the same. Jesus came to form a new life within us. Paul says this so vividly in Galatians 4:19:
“Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed [or formed] in your lives.” (NLT)
What does that forming look like? That’s the purpose of the third phase of our BELIEVE series which we begin the week after Easter. The third section equips us to Be Like Jesus. It addresses the question: Who am I becoming? I am calling this 10-week series HeartShaping.
As we continue through Lent and into Easter Season, consider these words from Phillips Brooks (best known for writing the lyrics to “O Little Town of Bethlehem”): “The great Easter truth is not that we are to live newly after death—that is not the great thing—but that we are to be new here and now by the power of the resurrection; not so much that we are to live forever as that we are to, and may, live nobly now because we are to live forever.”