It’s easy to set up external structures for your life. Go to school, and they’ll teach you how to think. Go to work, and supervisors will dictate how you act. Go to Church, and the structure of the service will facilitate your encounter with God. But what about when systems fail? What do you have left when all you have is yourself?
Community is a great thing, especially Christian community. We really do need each other, to lift each other up and give encouragement. Tasks that only one person can’t do, a group of many can do easily. Yet, a community can’t save anyone. As great as our leaders are, individuals must make decisions for themselves. God is not a puppet-master, and we are not puppets. We are sons and daughters with the ability to make powerful decisions. When testing comes(and it will), we each have the responsibility to make right choices.
An old pastor of mine once told me that he believes a lack of self-control is the number one issue facing the Church today. From what I’ve seen, I believe it’s pretty high up there. The Holy Spirit is the one who teaches us self-control. If we’re relying on our knowledge, our intellectual tact, we will fail. Self-control is a dynamic series of right decisions we have to make every single day, and successful execution of that control (fruit) will only manifest from the close personal relationship we each have with God.
Deep down inside ourselves, we have an internal structure called character. That character is tested, tried and grown through conflict and glory, and it gets stronger every step of the way. Every act done in faith is nourishment. Every heart-cry of love is a stepping stone. Every testimony of God’s grace further solidifies that truth we hold in our deepest part.
As we grow in maturity, our inner man becomes mighty. Our goal as believers is to grow up into the image of Christ. We must be people completely confident in who we are, knowing our God-given authority, character, responsibility and love. So as a family of brothers and sisters, we move forward. At the end of the age, we will truly be the spotless bride of Christ.
“In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.'”–Hebrews 12:4-6