Fullness in Christ
In the book of Jeremiah, God tells the prophet, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel." (Isaiah 18:6 NIV)
God's desire for our lives is that we be reshaped into His image in all its glory, becoming what He meant us to be before humanity fell into sin and that image was marred by disobedience. He longs to make us like Jesus.
Scripture calls this shaping of our character by the Spirit of God sanctification. We are being made holy. We are being set apart by God to display His holiness and love to the world in our everyday lives. This is the second half of the Gospel.
Sometimes we get stuck in the first half of the Gospel - justification. Sometimes we fall into thinking that receiving Christ as our Savior is the goal, and when we trust Jesus to forgive our sins and secure a place for us in heaven we have arrived. But we have just begun the second half of the Gospel.
The Apostle Paul says this: "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." (Colossians 2:6-7 NIV)
Just as we receive Christ Jesus, we must continue to live our lives in Him. Living our lives in Him means so many things.
It means living our lives in obedience to His great commandment that we love God with all our hearts and love our neighbors as ourselves.
It means we live our lives in the strength of His Holy Spirit, not merely in our own human strength.
It means we allow Him to root out of our lives the sin nature deep in our character, which frees our will from the power of sin and breaks every chain of addiction.
It means we allow the Holy Spirit to use every experience of our lives to grow into us the Fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Every one of us is a work in progress. That's one reason why it should be so easy for us to give grace to one another and to those who have not yet begun a faith journey with Jesus. Without His shaping, without His sanctifying work, we will fail to live up to the glory for which we were created, and our lives will be marked by the ugliness of selfishness and sin. It can be no different until Jesus comes in.
Perhaps we should each wear a button that says, PBPGIFWMY. When someone asks what it means, we can tell them, "Please Be Patient, God Isn't Finished With Me, Yet."
Our part in the second half of the Gospel is the same as the first half. It is to trust Jesus by faith. It is to cooperate with His shaping of our character. It is to respond with a "yes" when the Holy Spirit insists we forgive or sacrifice or walk free from and addiction. God will do the rest. And the result will be something beautiful.
You see, God is working on your life and mine to make a masterpiece. And He is just the Artist who can make us over into lives of beauty, grace and love.
"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."