Taking a trip overseas to the churches in Asia Minor, looking around at the bare bones leftovers of what used to be large, booming cities and small rooms where the first house churches might have been, is a fantastic privilege. It’s one that can leave you with one of those mountain-top feelings, the stick thrown in the fire at your favorite Christian camp on the last day, making huge promises after hearing such phenomenal preaching day in and day out. Some of us know those feelings after leaving some conferences, or even some Sunday morning services.
While there, we opened up many passages while in the very cities they were written to, skipping over probably the less interesting introductions of the letters to get to those utterly juicy parts, those parts where we find those commands that we know we can obviously get right to work on, those glorious imperatives. Those imperatives leave you fired up as you walk into the humble beauty of what is the small room that believers met in during the first century and you compare it to the pride of your life. You are ripe and ready for change.
The problem with these moments are what they are wrapped in, not inherently bad things, but fallible things. The problem about rushing to the “4 Steps to Have an Impactful Christian Walk,” is that none of those steps required reading and believing the indicatives found in the context that power the imperatives.
When we talk about “not walking as the gentiles do” in Ephesians 4, we cannot forget that it comes from having read the first three chapters before it, words that have changed me forever because I can not boast in anything when it comes to how God has plucked me out of the muck and mire. When we talk about “putting on and putting off” in Colossians 3, we cannot forget that it comes after the two chapters before it, glorifying the name of the Lord Jesus Christ who forgives all of our sins and has reconciled us to Him. In both of these letters, and in most of what is written in these Scriptures, we have of course the call to obey, but not without him calling us to Himself first. We live our lives not as those who are dead and are trying to wake ourselves, but as those who have been given the greatest gift of a new life, resurrection.
My reminder for all of us today and everyday is this: do not forget who you are before you rush to the works of your hands. More importantly, do not forget who Christ is before you rush to show how you can, like the Greeks, master the art of living “Christianly.”
Trying to muster up every ounce of energy in order to make a stake in the ground will fail you unless you recognize that you are only able to put it there because Jesus had nails in His hands.
It is finished.