It’s been a great holiday for us and I hope all of you.
Occasionally, there are some things that cause me to wonder. Wonder what could have been the intent or wondering what the expectations are for certain situations.
This past Sunday, our Pastor was describing an upcoming Sunday School class and describe it as an opportunity to study the Bible from a Baptist view. Now I’m not certain I recall whether he said “from” or “with”, but what struck me was this thought; “Why not just study key doctrines outlined in the Bible and let the Bible present its own view?” After all, most denominations have a means of interpreting Scripture to fit their preconceived beliefs. But wouldn’t it be better if we simply let the Bible speak for itself?
Secondly, the morning message was a challenge to be “complete” in Christ, or “perfect” as Jesus presented it in the Sermon on the Mount. Paul was the model as outlined in Philippians 3:12-17. The emphasis was basically this, if Paul found himself wanting or falling short when it came to fullness in Christ, then how could we ever hope to find ourselves in a better position than Paul.
My question, as I’ve previously entertained is this, what does it mean to be perfect or complete in Christ? Does it mean I bear the fruit of the Spirit? Does it mean I fulfill the instructions as outlined by Christ in the Sermon? Is reading the Bible everyday a way to gain a leg up? If I pray often and correctly does that count? If I witness or win others to Christ does that add to my account? Is it all of those?
Personally, I struggle with my own pilgrimage and what it means to be a faithful follower and learner of Christ. Too often I find myself bouncing my faith up against that of others or others expectations. “If I do what they do, will that help me feel more spiritual – more intimate with Christ?” If I don’t do certain things and do do other certain things does that enhance my standing with Christ? Is God pleased with certain prayers, certain behaviors, certain beliefs?
Jesus said, as a part of his Sermon on the Mount, “…Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:20 ESV).” That in itself lends to a certain understanding of what Christ expected of his learner/followers. They were to go above and beyond that behavior and belief as expressed by the current religious leaders. They were called to be doers and not simply hearers of the words and teachings of the Christ and the Law. That’s a huge challenge. It is a stretch to believe we could even comprehend that type of living, let alone live in that circle. However, the crux of it all centered on an understanding of God’s word. Not his incarnate word, although that is part of it, but the Law and the Prophets.
Now, having said all that, it seems to me that if we invest ourselves in three disicplines: learning the Law, the Prophets and being deligent students of the life of Christ, we can go a long way toward being the kind of “follower” that not only honors Christ, but can come tantalizingly close to complete or perfect in our Christian character. Of course, the danger for us, just as that of Israel, is becoming more intent on the structure rather than the heart, the form rather than the function.
Father, let me see with a clear vision the life you have intended, hear with clarity, and keep an open heart and mind to all that I have been called to in Christ.