I think in our Christian culture, at least in the evangelical one I’ve inhabited, what we are becoming as people can be all but lost in the tyranny of the here and now. Our culture can be more about doing this or that, and then thinking we’re good to go, or doing alright. When in reality we may be on a downward trajectory perhaps due to some given matter which we are failing to nip in the bud.
“What are we becoming?” is one of the most pertinent and powerful questions we can ask ourselves when considering our own progress in grace and in the faith.
We have at least a couple of major factors which militate against this. One is the idea of “once saved always saved,” or maybe better put, to avoid an unnecessary theological debate here, the idea that the crucial matter is to find one’s position in Christ, and then the rest either follows, or is gravy, or the frosting on the cake. Dallas Willard wrote about “bar code Christianity,” by which he meant something like what I’m trying to get at here. If you’re “in,” essentially that’s enough. You might not be changed much at all in character, but you are saved, you know “your home is in heaven,” and all is good. The warning against easy believism or what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace,” surely comes into play in this as well. It is not about really being a disciple or follower of Jesus, but about simply being saved and eternally secure. No matter what.
The other major factor I was thinking of is one which probably strikes more directly against my thinking and practice, though rest assured the first major factor wreaked havoc in my life as well. It is the move away from the mystical, failing to process just how important the work of the Spirit is in our lives. This can be related to spiritual practices called disciplines which have been etched into the tradition of the church over time. We do well to learn from that, to experience something of it for ourselves. And the need simply to realize that this life is beyond us. We need the Spirit to help us change, or to even convict us of the need for change in the first place.
And what I alluded to is important as well. We need to have a heart which wants to nip sin in the bud as it comes up in our lives. We don’t want sin percolating and we don’t want to get used to the drink. We will find over time that we are changing and not for the good. The Spirit may still be at work in us, but it will be more a matter of misery than anything else. And there’s no snap of the finger which will change what we’ve become. We can only hope and pray for a true repentance as in a turning point in which we start the long road back toward normalcy in Christ, toward his likeness.
The question, “What are we becoming?” can be a check all along the way as we notice in ourselves little things which point to the need for change. As well as the big things we need to take care of in the sense of our Lord’s words, to cut off the hand and gouge out the eye. It is all grace, but we are not only smack dab in the middle of it, but must be part of it intentionally, as well. As we are told: “…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (And see the entire book.)