Have you ever met someone who just became a Christian and they were so excited and you began to see so many parts of their life begin to change. Perhaps you were or are that Christian.
I remember when I first realized I am a sinner and the helplessness I felt to try to change my life. I remember when I first began to realize the hopelessness I felt and how directionless I was as nothing in life satisfied.
I also remember the day when I realized the grace of God was being offered to me and that if I humbled myself and received God’s mercy by faith that everything would be okay, that I didn’t have to worry about my future, and that I was guaranteed the inheritance of eternal life. So I received God’s gift of grace by faith and my whole life changed.
I felt raw, but cleansed.
I felt broken, but I was being re-built.
I felt tender-hearted toward all people and the situation they were in, and I felt a compassion and love for all people.
And then six months later my heart began to harden a little. I realized the pain of this world continues and that the freshness of the Lord’s favor was beginning to feel distant.
This partially may have been due to the fact that I saw many freshman college students begin to fall away from faith by January 1995. This may have partially been due to the fact I saw much pain in my friends and their friends, which they tried to fix through self-medicating with alcohol, marijuana, or sleeping with a boyfriend or girlfriend. This may have had to do with the increased pain I saw in those who formerly declared to be a follower of Christ who then began to drink and sleep around and who then became jaded and started to point the finger at me saying I was being judgmental.
I really wrestled with this.
I don’t like being judgmental or feeling like others thought I was being judgmental. At the same time when I would see crushed people trying to fix their problems with things that made it worse I had two reactions during my college days: (1) I would point out that what they were doing was wrong and that it was inflicting more pain; and (2) I would feel bad for pointing this out because people didn’t like to hear me say this and it often resulted in distance between us.
And then there would be my third reaction – “Well if I can’t change them, then should I join them?” I didn’t get into the drinking thing or drugs, but my girlfriend became my fix. We didn’t sleep together until our wedding night, but I did depend on her more than God for a few years before we got married. I also flirted with putting my bible on my shelf because movies or video games and poker were more fun.
I would go back and forth about what God wanted me to do and what I wanted to do. I go back and forth less now, but I still struggle with living a perfectly consecrated life.
What does consecration mean?
It is an ongoing recognition that all you are and continue to be is a disciple growing in Christ in faith.
As Christians we are called to do two basic things: (1) be a disciple of Jesus; and (2) help others become disciples of Jesus.
How do we do this?
First, we are to teach obedience to Jesus and stress confession of sin. Confession simply means agreeing with God of what sin is, and when you sin agree with God that you have sinned. And then if the sin was against another person, go to that person and confess you sinned against them This sure helps you sleep better because you go to bed at night free from condemnation.
Second, being a disciple of Jesus involves the outworking of faith. We are called to have faith and then to live by faith. This is the fruit of the tree so to speak, the proof in the pudding, and the expression of God’s love working through the Christian.
Third, disciples of Jesus are called to accept the discipline of devotion and ministry. Every Christian should be involved in making disciples and you can’t do this unless you are a part of a church working with other people with various giftings working together to help produce well rounded disciples of Christ. Our elders, when we meet with new membership candidates, we ask if they have read our membership covenant and agree with our doctrine and if they agree to get involved in ministry. We explain that we expect each member to be discipled and be involved in ministry within their spheres of influence and programs at Grace.
Fourth, disciples of Jesus are called to follow the way of the cross. This simply means we are to serve like Jesus served and endure hardships for the sake of living the Christian life. In some countries this results in martyrdom. In our country there is a social pressure to remain quiet about faith, especially about the Christian faith, and if you bring it up people just distance themselves from you. And so in this country we walk a fine line of living like Jesus and thus serving people and talking about Christ at the risk of hurting relationships.
And finally, make love your aim. Obedience gives expression to love. But love comes first, which causes the Christian disciple of Jesus to want to obey out of love for God. You can’t say you love Him and then live in disobedience. Disobedience to Christ is an expression of rebellion against Christ, which results in distance and separation from God.
I am not fully consecrated, but I desire to be. I desire for those in my church to desire to be consecrated. May we desire this together, walk by love and with grace inspire one another to live for Jesus. This is harder than it sounds, but so worth pursuing together.