Like most kids, I was prone to spouting that line to my folks on those road trips that seemed interminable. Heck I even harass my wife when we’re taking a road trip with…”Are we there yet?” However, due to recent events, that question has taken on new meaning for me.
Not too long ago, in a rather public forum of folks that we’ll call “seniors”, there was a rather lively discussion regarding how emotions, words, and actions can impact our ability to be a positive witness for Christ. A few minutes into the discussion a person made this comment which I’ll paraphrase; in a group of seniors like ours I would think many of us have “arrived” and our concern is not our emotions, words or actions – we’ve pretty well come to terms with those and have those under control. The issue is really how we witness for Christ, i.e., how we tell people about Jesus.
Well hush my mouth and call me stupid! I had no idea at my age that I should have “arrived” at maturity in Christ. That by this time in my life, my concern should not be character or comport, but actually how I tell someone about Christ. Of course, telling someone about Christ is important. But it’s my opinion that one never really arrives! As they ol’ saying goes, “you’re either green and growin’ or ripe and rotten.”
I know my habits should be more honoring to Christ. My words should seek to edify others and not tear them down; my temper should be controlled and my actions consistent with a believer in Christ. But I gotta tell ya, I’m far from complete or mature in any of those categories. I know some folks who think they are – I’m not one of them.
Jesus did admonish us to be “perfect (complete)” even as our Father in heaven is perfect. And I’m keeping that goal in my sights. Nevertheless, I struggle every day with words, attitudes and actions that are not honoring to Christ and far from exemplifying the Christian character that would draw others to the Savior. Does that make me a loser? Does that mean I’m really not saved? Does it mean that I’m a backslider and a hypocrite? Does it mean I missed the “arriving bus” and now I’m simply floundering with things that should have been settled years ago? For goodness sake, I still struggle with “sins” and temptations that haunted me as a new believer. Even I’ve got sense enough to know I should have settled those types of issues years ago, but some how the enemy knows my vulnerabilities and exploits them at what seems to be his leisure regardless of my mature age.
Will I reach a point when I have “arrived?” Perhaps, but I’m certainly not there yet. I do know people who seem to be close to that threshold of maturity. People who – at least in my presence – show a depth of faith and consistency of character that makes me desirous of those qualities. More important than that, I am fortunate enough to have a soul-mate who is the most consistent Christian I know. A woman who still seeks after that godly character which not only draws her closer to the Savior, but also speaks a positive testimony to those she comes in contact with. Do I emulate that? Not always. Heck, not often – but I can desire it.
I’ll admit there is a nagging fear that if someone says to a fellow co-worker, “Did you know Norm’s a Christian,” that the person hearing those words would say “Really!!!???” So everyday I try to keep things in check. To be sensitive to my words and actions. It’s difficult because in some respects I have “arrived” at the person I am and not the person I want to become. There’s a big difference between the two!
“…Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel.” (Ph. 1:27)