being willing to be in process

Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
    We are the clay, you are the potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.

Isaiah 64

One of the most necessary aspects, indeed realities, in being a Christian, in following Christ, is being in process, unfinished, but on the beginning track of being conformed by God into the image of his Son, Jesus. This can be quite uncomfortable at times, and we can bail out of the hard places by flinching from them, rather than setting our face like a flint and going through them. Not easy, nor fun, I speak from experience.

We are people of experience, especially it seems, in this time. Existentialism to some extent, has gained the upper hand. “If it feels good,”, or it works, and we seem to be doing fine, we don’t give many things that maybe we once questioned, or even thought were wrong, a second thought. Of course God is a God of grace who will work in our lives in spite of us. Just the same, we do reap what we sow. And God’s word means what it says in its words of warning, as well as encouragement.

A most important thing to note here is that God is at work. This can help us in faith to hang in there, counting on God’s faithfulness. If we persevere, then God can do a lot that otherwise would not be done. So that later down the road, we won’t be back at the same place which wasn’t completed earlier. Each part is a juncture toward the end when God will complete his work in us, in and through Jesus.

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1

simply being present as God does the work

In Jesus God is at work, and in the process actually enables us in Jesus to join in, of course even at risk to God’s reputation. But over all of that is a process in which God is at work to complete the good work he began in us through Jesus (Philippians 1).

Simply being present before God and with each other is surely underrated. Instead we tend to want to think it’s about what we need to do. Instead we need to get silent and get out of the way so that God can do the only work which will make a difference. As we learn to do that, we somehow become a part of that work. Of course essentially through God shaping and molding us in the image of Jesus, that being a lifelong process.

And it’s in communion with the saints, not just the dead ones if that goes on (and by the Spirit, that may be so somehow), but with those around us, others in Jesus. Somehow the image of Jesus being shaped in us gets rubbed off on each other through being together, even through the hard knocks and difficult places, including tensions arising in such relationships. But we have to at least be present with each other and preferably committed to this for that to happen.

God in Jesus is with us already; God is fully present. We need to be fully present before him, as best we can. In other words- accept, acknowledge, appreciate, and count on that Presence with us. Purposefully spending time by faith with God and learning to see all of our lives as in his presence. And also making it a priority to spend quantity, quality time with each other in Jesus. And with others as well.

This is central for us as humans, largely what makes us human. All of this in and through Jesus.

into the process

Yesterday I posted as it were (though unintended then) a brief introduction to how we approach trials (“wisdom needed“). Today I want to consider the process itself, a little (it is, after all, a big subject).

Only simpletons believe everything they’re told!
    The prudent carefully consider their steps.

Proverbs 14:15; NLT

It’s important to be thoughtful people about what we’re facing. Experience helps, being seasoned through life in the fear and love of the Lord. To consider everything, insofar as we can when facing trials, which, while we might and probably will to some extent learn the hard way, through the hard knocks of life, we do well to put at the forefront of our thinking. That means sometimes we need to step back, perhaps put where we’re at on pause, and prayerfully reflect.

First of all, in seeking to please the Lord, we must be considerate of others, sensitive to their expectations and needs. We need to weigh that in our prayerful consideration of the whole. So that we make no major decisions apart from having thought through a number of things, actually the whole of everything, from every practical angle we can think of.

Next (though not necessarily in this order, nor is this meant ot be complete) we seek the counsel of others, especially wise, experienced people of grace, who will pray with us, and may offer us much needed counsel and advice to avoid serious pitfalls, and do well (Proverbs 15:22).

And then we pray, continue to pray, wait on God, and give something time. We are in a process. Life itself is a process, and new things, likely trials to us since they are new, or perhaps certainly trials in and of themselves, need time to get through. “This too shall pass.” But we need to hang in there through those difficult times, looking to God for his help, relief and needed wisdom along the way. His grace and mercy poured out on us, and on the situation. And especially in how it might impact others.

As the passage in James makes clear, this is part of our growth toward full maturity, and necessary in our following of Christ, and being formed into his likeness.

in process

Sometimes we simply have to hold on and keep going. We are in process for sure in and through Jesus. The goal is conformity to him, to God’s will in him.

We so easily can see other things as more important, even if only in the moment. Some which are not bad in themselves, others which may be indifferent. Hopefully none that are actually sin. But even the good things easily become idols to us.

We need to settle down and settle in for the long haul, into the process. Life is indeed lived daily, but we do so in view of the past and in anticipation of the future in terms of God’s good work and promise, even as God continues his good work in the present in and through Jesus.

in process

For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yesterday I was eloquently reminded of the importance of embracing the process of growth through our participation in the divine nature in and through Christ. How certain qualities need to be growing from our faith. How we are accountable for this.

All too often we miss this through poor teaching, or lack of teaching. We tend to think according to what we’ve been taught (or because we’re not taught) that when we come to Christ for salvation, we have it. Or that we simply need a second blessing and maybe a number of second blessings. All such thoughts likely take in partial truths but fall short of the real truth of the matter.

The Apostle Peter in his second letter tells us something quite different. He challenges us, indeed presses us to realize we are in process, a process of growth in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. And that to be engaged in this process is absolutely necessary to our ongoing life in God through Christ. That in fact to fail to do so is to imperil us, even in the matter of our salvation. A careful reading of the entire letter will help make that clear.

The world talks about the grieving process, and there’s at least surely a lot of truth in it. People need to be allowed to work through it. And so it is true with us in Jesus. We too need to work through the process of being true disciples, bearing much fruit. We must be adding to our faith: goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection and love.

We can’t escape it: we’re works in process. The ongoing goal for us is continued growth. We can’t be content with yesterday or today’s gains, even though we should be thankful. We must go on. If we have the light needed from God we’ll see enough to know that. And God has a way of bringing in some really hard lessons through life, to get our attention. The more we embrace this process ourselves, the more likely we can do well, not only making our own calling and election sure, but our lives in and through Jesus truly making a difference in this world through helping others.