A few thoughts on a Monday.
The life of a Christ-follower is meant to be distinct. By its very nature, observing the life of a disciple of Jesus should stir some measure of confusion in the mind of the observer. Confusion to some degree is inevitable when the observable behavior of another fails to agree with the culture in which they exist. Not only might there be a failure to agree, but there may seem to be an outright contradiction. In his book, The Mission of God, Christopher J.H. Wright explains, “Having been chosen, redeemed and called into covenant relationship, the people of God have a life to live–a distinctive, holy, ethical life that is to be lived before God and in the sight of the nations.”
Why does this task seem so difficult? My perception is that many Christians struggle to live holy lives that are distinctly different from the culture in which they live. It has certainly been my experience that the struggle is real. The problem appears to exist not necessarily in a lack of knowledge, but in a lack of truth application. Perhaps the struggle is exacerbated by a deficiency in Scripture reading, Scripture meditation, prayer, and accountability. Nevertheless, attempting to live a holy, godly life in one’s own strength proves to be an insurmountable task. It would seem appropriate to remember the words given to the Apostle Peter as recorded in 2 Peter 1:3, in which Peter explains, “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”
This reminder is particularly helpful because it points the reader back to the truth of God’s provision. He has granted to His followers everything needed for salvation as well as sanctification. Thankfully, the disciple of Jesus need not attempt the Christian life in his own strength. This news is especially encouraging given the commission of God’s people to take the gospel message to the ends of the earth for the glory of Christ. It is this commission for which the Christ-follower must be burdened.
So whose task is it really? Does it belong to all of God’s people or only a select few? Consider the words of J.I. Packer:
“The commission to publish the gospel and make disciples was never confined to the apostles. Nor is it now confined to the Church’s ministers. It is a commission that rests upon the whole Church collectively, and therefore upon each Christian individually. All God’s people are sent to do as the Philippians did, and ‘shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life.’ Every Christian, therefore, has a God-given obligation to make known the gospel of Christ. And every Christian who declares the gospel message to any fellow-man does so as Christ’s ambassador and representative, according to the terms of his God-given commission. Such is the authority, and such the responsibility, of the Church and of the Christian in evangelism.” (Evangelism & The Sovereignty of God, 45-46.)
Perhaps herein lies the rub. I am commanded to share the gospel. However, every time I share the gospel I am presuming to speak on behalf of Christ as His ambassador. Therefore, I must live a holy life so as not to bring reproach upon the name and reputation of Christ. Yet, my salvation and forgiveness notwithstanding, I am a sinner by nature and I am incapable of perfection while in this earthly tent. I must, at this point, call to mind 2 Peter 1:3. My Savior has granted to me “everything pertaining to life and godliness.” I am not alone. I must trust in the divine power of a Holy God.
So take heart, Christian. Read God’s Word. Pray for strength. Trust the Savior. Preach the Gospel.
God never fails.