You know my dislike of mysticism. My son, Tim, wrote also wrote about the topic last week. I sometimes read comments, sometimes not – but, in this case, I did. I am so very grateful that I took the time because there was a snappy little T-shirt-type slogan that someone shared. It was, “I asked for a word from God and all I got were these 66 books.”
Isn’t that perfect? I love one-line theologies!
And, just a quick reflection:
In our church’s mid-week, on Wednesday, our pastor asked us to think of and share different events of our progress in sanctification. What sorts of things had we seen in ourselves over the years? How did we handle what we saw had to change?
I loved listening to the answers, and appreciated them. But, I was the oldest in the room and it became apparent to me that, in some ways, I was seeing things quite differently. I think there are probably three general phases in Christian growth.
I think in stage one, we are young and restless, We are still trying to feel our way into life and even into our own skins. Because of this, we still very much compare ourselves with others, in a multitude of ways. This is an uncomfortable kind of enslavement and we pray for greater contentment with what God has given us.
In stage two there is appreciably less comparison with others. God has been faithful to help us focus on our own lives. There is a much more settled maturity. We determine to pursue holiness. We examine ourselves for sin in our lives and it grieves us when we find it. We sincerely desire to put it off and be like Christ.
I would say stage three comes when you are old enough to see that you are within range of heaven’s gates. You can glimpse the goal, and it is not so very far away any more. And that changes everything. The restlessness of youth is long-gone. But, more surprisingly, so is the disappointed striving of stage two.
In stage three I would say you learn to stop comparing yourself with yourself. You have learned over a lifetime that you will be carrying your sin to the grave. That is axiomatic. And you lose interest in even that.
The corresponding interest is in Christ. As you and your sin become less and less interesting, he becomes more and more so. Not that this allows you to harbor sin in your life. Certainly, if God shows a problem area you continue to address it. But the fervor is much more weighted against self-examination and toward Christ. Just in and of Himself.
You begin to experience the freedom of heaven while still on earth