Good Monday morning, and welcome to March too! The month came in very quietly around here, but out east a storm has left a bunch of snow to start their week. What headline caught my eye this morning? After the storm tidings, I noticed one article that asked "Are you your own worst doctor?" My answer: probably. Self diagnosis is probably not a good way to figure out what is bothering me, especially in light of all the advertisements and articles telling us how messed up we are in this life. We have so many burdens to carry, and yet we grab for more at the first opportunity. Paul wrote about doing those things that he did not want to do. Things haven't changed for us; we still do the things we don't want to do. I find it amazing that we begin with the perfect example Jesus, hence the name Christ-ones or Christians, and then we have a major figure who is very much like all of us in one or more ways. Paul started out zealously persecuting Christians, met Jesus and turned completely the other way, but still had a lot of problems. We do much the same, though perhaps not as dramatically, in our lives. We go our own way, meet Jesus, turn completely around, and then have problems doing what we know is right. Why are we not immediately made like Jesus?
The problem might be in our perception that Jesus intended for us to become instantly like him when we come to believe. The Christ-ones that Paul persecuted were known as followers of the Way. Jesus called himself the Way, the Truth, and the Light in John 14:6. The Way brings to mind a journey. We don't start a journey at the finish or destination, we start at the beginning. Each of us begins following the Way by learning from and trusting in Jesus. We are not immediately and fully like him, but he leads us to that place and forges us to be like him over our lifetimes. Paul wanted to be just like Jesus back then and we want to be just like him now, but as Paul found out, we must all complete the journey first. Paul used "run the race" to illustrate this. Whether you want to run the race, complete the journey, or reach the goal, you can rest assured that Christ will complete the work in you that he began on the day you first believed. We studied that verse in Philippians a couple weeks ago, but I keep coming back to that in my prayer life. Patience, endurance, and consistent effort are required of us on this great journey, but most of all we must trust in Jesus to do His work in us. Do you know how to save or sanctify yourself? I don't either. Doesn't it make more sense to leave that to the One who does know? Praise God for His saving and sanctifying work in us!