So, how would you put into words a concise, yet comprehensive statement of who you were in sin, who you are in Christ, who you are becoming by His grace, and the glorious hope of who you will be? I’ve been rather verbose about it on numerous occasions 🙂 although I’ve never taken the time to compose a synopsis. The pastoral residency I’m in calls us to respond to every facet of the Gospel and evangelism is perhaps the most essential call of every Christian. And that makes this effort rich for me in both substance and purpose.
Here’s what I would say if I had just a couple minutes of your time…
From the earliest age, I recall always being in church, seeing as I was raised as a pastor’s kid. I don’t remember not being a Christian — my faith as a child was strong and my heart was tender; but I do remember becoming increasingly and intolerably rebellious as I entered and began through my teenage years. A crisis of faith developed toward the end of high school when I knew I could no longer allow self-will to harden my heart and destroy the faith God had given me. I knew Jesus died in my place for my sin. I knew I could only live in Him. This was the beginning of a long journey back to God.
The personal, spiritual battles that continued into adulthood were often lost due to my preoccupation with self — achievement, satisfaction, fulfillment — all things that were sometimes merely secular, but for entirely the wrong motives, or even more often, blatantly sinful. I could never quite satisfy my desires — I was always left incomplete. Although guilt repeatedly led to what was often private confession, the secret shame and lack of true repentance left me a slave to the insatiable.
God allowed me much success in my career — perhaps in part to prove to me just how hollow it could be. Yet as I found myself being crushed by guilt and emptiness, the evidence of God’s love and mercy began to overwhelm me. I found that He was ever so patiently drawing me to Himself. I was filled with deep longing for true repentance and freedom — God wonderfully granted me that repentance and I found such freedom in the love of Jesus like I had never known! My guilt and emptiness were replaced with such joy and contentment.
The gracious gift of Jesus’ righteousness has begun a work in me that continues as I grow and am transformed by the Spirit and the Word of God. The Spirit of God living in me guides and directs me, convicts me of sin and righteousness, and makes me Holy, reminding me I am His own. As I confess my sin, He faithfully and justly forgives me as His child. God continues to strengthen me when temptations to lust and covet confront me — giving me perfect peace in His complete fulfillment of my every need.
As I continue to obediently seek and honor God and His kingdom, and to faithfully respond to God’s call on my life to minister the Gospel, no matter the sacrifice, He proves that His providential grace is perfectly sufficient. All my hope is in Jesus, my Lord—because He arose from the dead in the power of His Holiness, whether today or tomorrow I live or die, in Jesus I have life eternal.
How about you?