A long time good friend of mine, Bob George founded Discipleship Counseling Services many years ago and my wife and I and other friends were delighted to attend a Seminar he was conducting in Dallas, TX. He had written his first book on Grace, Classic Christianity, and it had opened my eyes to a Gospel message that my many years in church had never seemed to consider. Now I have five of his books in my library and I love to share his insights whenever there are listeners.
Today, I chose what I believe to be his second book, Growing in Grace, to convey a small portion of his thoughts on what I happen to believe is the most important phase of Christianity. He opens eyes with this provocative question:
"In spite of a sincere and genuine faith in Jesus Christ, have you ever found yourself acting in a stupid manner, as if you had never heard of the gospel? If we are totally honest, we would all admit to such times. All of us can forget who we are - especially, whose we are, and what we believe in during unexpected moments. We have all heard the voices, either real or imagined: "I thought you were a Christian?" comes the sneer. "I thought I was too," we respond in disgust, "How could I do such a thing?"
"Let's be a little more pointed. Besides the "unexpected" moments, we all know that Christians can choose to live in a determined and long-term manner that is contrary to what the word of God says. In fact, we all have areas in our lives where we face ongoing struggles with temptation and failure. We sometimes wonder if we will ever begin to make progress in this Christian like. Every believer I have ever known - with the possible exception of those who are new to the faith, has experienced what the Apostle Paul described, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate to do, I do... for I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do, this I keep on doing." (Romans 7:15, 18, 19)
'This same conflict has been experienced by Christians of all ages, from every denomination, and from every geographical region. They have been put on guilt trips and brow-beaten to give it everything they can, but in spite of their most sincere efforts, it just is not enough. Simply put, what we really need is - life. And that is exactly what Jesus came to offer. "I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10)
After years of walking with our Lord, I can easily endorse everything that Bob has said in those words. We sin, we come to Christ sincerely hoping that our confession will be sufficient and then we walk back into the world from which we may have been struggling for years. That was certainly true in my life as I had been living in a lie. Be good, I was encouraged. Yet, I tried that again and again and failed, again and again, as there was no goodness in those older and aging bones. In truth, however, I heard a voice reminding me of what I trying to forget and I dared to listen. Then, as I actually listened, it seemed, something new was beginning to encourage me. I had no idea of what it was, I just decided to get up and walk, believing I was no longer alone.
That was nearly forty years ago, now. Today, those doubts have been erased and a new.song has taken over my life. "He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today, He walks with me and He talks with me, along life's narrow way. He lives, He lives, salvation to impart, you ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart."
Still, in my case, there seemed to be another voice within, "But I can't, I just can not." "Of course, you can not. you are trying to live life your way". Frank Sinatra had made these words, "I did it my way" popular and my way seemed to be, a road leading straight to Hell. I remember what Jesus said, "I have come that they - you, might lave life,..." and that has been His answer for all of us, for centuries.
I had been led to believe, you don't have to do anything. merely believe and watch. Your life will change. All you have to do is recognize the fact that you no longer believe those voices that had led you to where you were before you heard His voice.. That is partially true.
Your recognition of His life within becomes apparent when you no longer have to regard the voices designed to discourage you and reject those that would you lead you back to our own version of the "dark" ages. Your only real need is to open your eyes to reality and embrace it. That is what this life is all about, really!
It is called Grace, the price He paid for the joy that can fill your heart to overflowing.