Why is it that a number of men, women and students can go to a Christian “event” (conference, camp, seminar, etc)…..make a decision for Christ – either trusting Him as Lord & Savior or renewing their commitment to Him – and then months, weeks or possibly years later fall away from that?
Why is it that men or women who have lived ungodly lives for years (like I did) – or were good people but had no interest in Christ – and then make a commitment to Christ — get so frustrated because they have kids who continue in rebellion or spouses that don’t get it?
Why is it that Christians who have lived nominal lives, and finally make a decision to be sold out to Christ get mad because they’re not getting ministry opportunities they think they should have now or are frustrated because their family doesn’t get this new commitment?
Why is it that we meet so many couples on the verge of divorce and one of them decides to trust Christ – or if they’re already a Christian decides it’s time to really be sold out to Him – and then they can’t understand why their spouse still wants out?
Just because you make a commitment to Christ – or decide to start having a quiet time – or get involved in church (even serving in some capacity) doesn’t mean that you won’t have issues to deal with for a while.
If I’ve chosen terrible health habits – eating the wrong foods and refusing to exercise – I may be grossly overweight and in bad health. I can make a commitment to Christ, but that doesn’t mean He automatically gives me good health. He will give me the power to change my habits which can eventually help or heal my health problems – but it will be a process where I have to make the right decisions day after day —- I don’t trust Christ one day and wake up the next day skinny.
The same principle applies to other situations. Can God deliver you from an addiction immediately? Absolutely – but for some people it takes time to find total victory.
Are you forgiven? If you’ve trusted Christ as Savior & Lord – YES you’re forgiven by God, but there are consequences for our actions that sometimes last for years, and there are relationships that may or may not be healed. You can’t control or determine how other people will respond – you can only control your decisions and actions.
There are hundreds of scenarios like this and I’m not trying to offer up simplistic solutions because the issues are complex, but one thing I’ve seen is that so many people miss the fact that the Christian life is a journey and not an event. You don’t make a commitment to Christ or renew your commitment to Christ at some event (or as an event) and BAM, now everything is going to be perfect and fine.
When you make a commitment to Christ you have access to the power of God and you have the promise of His presence IN YOUR JOURNEY, but there will still be battles to fight and hard times to face.
One of my favorite characters of biblical history is Joseph (read Genesis 37 & following). He went through many experiences that were very tough even when he did the RIGHT THING — but this was part of the process to get him ready for the most important role of his life. The key was he continued to honor & trust God even when things went south for him.
None of us have arrived; following Christ is a journey, not an event. I was reminded of this even as I read 2 Timothy 3 this morning. I’ve taught on 2 Tim 3:16 many times which says: All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; (2 Timothy 3:16 NASB). Basically, I believe this passage is a reminder of the fact that the Word of God: a) teaches us the right path to take, b) reproves us & shows us where we got off the right path, c) corrects us by showing us how to get back on the right path, & d) trains us how to stay on the right path.
Life as a follower of Christ is a journey, but it’s one that requires an ongoing commitment to the Word of God. When Joshua was going into the land God promised the Israelites, he knew it would be a journey that involved many battles and a key to victory was obeying God & His Word.
As Joshua 1:8 (NASB) says: This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Even though Joshua was successful in taking the land God promised, there were setbacks and problems along the way – but he maintained his commitment to God and His Word.
PS: In terms of relationships with other people you need to remember that forgiveness should be given freely and over & over (both ways) – but trust takes time to build or rebuild. Check out the story of Paul, Barnabas and John Mark in Acts 12:25; Acts 15:35-37 & 2 Timothy 4:11.