Have you ever chuckled at how many individuals claim to be Christians? You know, those 83% of Americans who profess Christianity as their religion but seemingly deny him by their lifestyle? (ABC News) How many times have we rolled our eyes in response to such claims? But, have we ever considered that the very act of doing so just may render us equally as guilty.
I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve been convicted of this heart posture on multiple occasions. Most recently however, God has opening my eyes to a greater understanding in the error of my ways: the arrogance in assuming the ultimate fate of another based on the perception of that person’s current track record.
Who are we to measure the Christianity of others, passing judgment on how “good” a Christian is as a means to determine whether or not that individual or people group has accepted God’s gift of eternal life? Paul writes in Ephesians that it is “by grace (we) have been saved through faith. And this is not (our) own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Our eternal salvation is not dictated by how well we serve God, rather our willingness to repent and invite Jesus into our hearts as the Lord of our lives. It is with this internal acceptance that Jesus meets us where we are and begins walking with us there, where we are.
The path that God has prepared for each of us varies in duration, differs in pace, and is uniquely designed for all levels of experience according the God given skills, abilities, and disposition of those He calls. With each step, we are transformed inwardly into the likeness of His Son. It is important to remember that this transformation is a step by step journey. We are not made perfect through acceptance, we are changed as we continue to walk.
Furthermore, our circumstances or surroundings can often create hurts or spiritual injury that temporarily prevent us from moving forward. Such are the Christians who have yet to truly encounter Christ, compelled by a love so captivating it commands obedience. Lord knows, my actions have not always testified to the goodness of God’s salvation through Christ, though by grace I am stepping forth into an earthly existence that is now beginning to genuinely reflect my eternal inheritance.
All this to say, I believe God is challenging us to expand our perception of youth, not only cherishing the simplicity of a child in age, but those who are younger in the Spirit as well. Let us not “think less of (those who) are young [in faith]…” Instead, will you join me in asking God how He might use us to instruct younger Christians to “… be an example to all believers in what (they) say, in the way (they) live, in (their) love, (their) faith, and (their) purity,” just as others who are further along in their maturity have done for us. (1 Timothy 4:12)
Finally, let us be filled with laughter produced by the joy of the Lord in love, not judgment.