As we start to close out the remainder of Chapter 4, I want to spend the last two entries focused on Chan's closing remarks. Today, we will spend time looking at the expectations we place on ourselves, as well as those we might place on others. Chan eagerly reminds us of this:
"The profile of the lukewarm is not an all-inclusive definition of what it means to be a Christian, nor is it intended to be used as ammunition to judge your fellow believers' salvation. Instead, as 2 Corinthians 13:5 says, it is a call to 'examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves."
When reading through some of the lukewarm characteristics these past weeks, how many of you immediately thought of other people? I'll be honest, when I would read something convicting, a lukewarm characteristic that could easily apply to my life, I was eager to find someone else that would also be defined by that certain characteristic... misery loves company. Right? I think this is one of our biggest obstacles as we move forward. In fact, I think it can be sub-divided into two obstacles: not falling into the trap of comparing our walk in faith to the walks of others AND learning to encourage the growth and development of someone's faith... even when you THINK it is surpassing yours!
We live in a VERY competitive society. Sadly, I have had to end a few friendships over the years because of unhealthy competition. We've all had those people in our lives... the friend that constantly points out what she has and what you don't have, the neighbor that always interrupts by saying, "Well, if you think that was bad, listen to this," or the play-group mom that insists on telling you how her one year old is taking Chinese, water ballet and origami classes because he shows a natural talent for those things...before he can walk! However, when it comes to our faith, our belief in Christ, there is no competition... at least, there shouldn't be! We should all be focused on the same thing: following Christ... and because of that, encouraging one another... not trying to "top" one another. This is REALLY hard for some of us because we've been hard-wired with an extremely selfish mentality... it's counter-intuitive to our social conditioning. BUT, it's not impossible to overcome. It just takes persistence, perseverance, and dependence on God, because, ultimately, He is the one with the power to transform our lives. Just remember that WE ARE ALL A WORK IN PROGRESS! No one will achieve perfection in this life... even if they think they have!
Spend some time today thinking about your heart. Is it open to giving and receiving encouragement? Or, in the back of your mind, are you constantly comparing yourself to others...good or bad? Have an open and honest conversation with God about where you are in your walk of faith. If you struggle with this, ask for His help. He's more than willing to give it!