Gal 5:22-26 (NLT) ……the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.
Many Christians were born and raised in a Christian household and cannot recall not being a Christian. They have been immersed in a Christian environment practically their entire lives – their conversion was slowly absorbed into their heart, soul, and body versus one giant, dramatic leap from someone that had been living a “worldly” lifestyle. These Christians do make their own independent declaration of faith in Christ, but they generally do not experience a dramatic experiential transformation – they have already been walking in His grace.
For a mature man, walking from the “world” into a life of Christ is a conversion where a lightbulb is suddenly turned on, going off in front of your eyes. I have come across a few since my connecting with Christ that cannot identify with that unmistakable moment (a small number have been fascinated by it). For me, my experience in September 2008 was immediate and very dramatic (I was shaken to my core and knocked to my knee’s), but then, tapered off over time due to my conflicting worlds (materialism vs. Christian “morality”) and silly events that would breed whispering seeds of mistrust. To be clear, I am accountable for my tapering off, not the Father.
Rom 5:3-5 (NLT) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.
The true turning point for me came when I stopped seeking the God I wanted and started seeking the God who is. I surrendered completely and fully committed myself to a relationship with Him and followed Him. I surrendered my will, my heart, my mind, my soul and my strength to Him. We dealt with, and still deal with, temptations and made/make some wrong choices, we have been taken to the mat a few times, but the Lord has always been there for us and we have walked away victorious. Actually, these moments are becoming much more clear to me personally, adding strength to my spirit and deepening my resolve and determination to follow Jesus wherever He takes me. We will experience a series of battles and trials, but it is through these events in our lives that we are made stronger as we honor Him and when we give Him the glory.
1 Peter 1:7-8 (NKJV) that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
It is not the way of Christ that leads to everlasting life, it is the Person of Christ. It is not what we follow, but whom we follow; not a set of values, but a Person. This has been my lesson over the last few years – learned via some hard knocks. Jesus said “Follow me.”, He did not say, “Follow My principles”. If we imitate His life but don’t know Him personally, we will become exhausted. In the beginning, I was trying to simply follow a set of rules and what I thought of as Christian principles and values. This was me “yesterday”, it is not me “today” or “tomorrow”.
And for the modern 21st Century man, many draw a line and are only willing to commit so far. This then leaves us with two questions – why? And, what has been the result?