We will be back to our series on the issue of gay marriage tomorrow, but today I want to consider an important question: who do you want to be?
Occasionally you bump into a word, phrase, or larger chunk of writing that works its way into the heart’s deepest recesses. It’s as though in encountering it prompts you to stop and shout: “Yes!” Sometimes these moments come in the oddest of places. I suppose it’s not surprising since God seems to revel in providing insight through paradox.
Last week I read a post by Michael Hyatt about taking stock of your life and seeking to see it as a Divine tapestry–a web of God-infused moments that together create something beautiful. That’s worth considering, but his thesis wasn’t what arrested me. Instead, it was his description of a college friend he encountered after twenty years of absence.
He writes, “I was especially proud that my friend was still married, still in the ministry, and still growing as a person. He was no worse for the wear, but much wiser and, somehow, deeper and more thoughtful. I know that if we lived closer together, we would be good friends once again.”
In my thinking, writing, and preaching over the last two years I find myself coming back to a single point: the purpose of the Christian life is to make us saints (holy). As I consider the Christian life I don’t think that God is ultimately working to make us more productive, wealthier, happier, or necessarily healthier. Productivity, wealth, happiness, and health may be either pathways to God (in the sense that we turn to God in our experience of them and thank Him) or they may be pathways away from God (when in bitterness at our poverty or in self-sufficiency fueled by our wealth we harden our hearts to God).
Before all else, God wishes for us to be holy. God is a personal God and therefore we can relate to Him. The product of our relating to Him, at least our positive relating to Him through the grace and merit of Christ, is that His holiness by graces changes us to be more like Him. Experiencing God produces holiness.
And holy men and women are very often precisely what Michael Hyatt describes: “wiser…deeper…more thoughtful…” At different stages in my eight plus years of ministry I have wanted to be different things: intelligent, winsome, an effective communicator, a strong leader.
A deepening conviction is settling upon me that these things are sort of like productivity, wealth, happiness–they can lead me to or away from God. They are not sure guides nor are they certain testimony to the blessing of God in my life.
At the end of the day, I want to be “wiser…deeper…more thoughtful” and I believe that growth in these graces is the result of encountering God in Christ through His Word, Sacraments, and in the community of faith.