We met tonight at LB’s to recap the week and the study. First the week.
As we discussed the material for the week, two things struck me, neither of which was particularly about the study itself. First, how comfortable we’ve become with each other over the past six weeks and second, that we are each striving for the same thing, albeit from a different place in life.
It was uplifting to talk about our experiences at church and the people that influence us. I sang at a funeral today of one of the members of church and I related how we had formed a bond and that I had gone and sat with him as his life ebbed. What a blessing he was to me. I can still picture him in the old building being an usher as he carried his oxygen bottle in his left arm.
One of the things that CH mentioned was how he felt alienated or separate and apart from the people at any church he’s ever been to. I asked why and he said probably because of his background and the things he’s done, he didn’t think anyone would want to be around him. If he only knew.
It hurt to hear him say that because the very place we should be after a fall is around other believers. I realize that is not the case but struggle with the reason why it isn’t. Is it because of the believers not living the life? Or is it because of the fallen not thinking they are worthy? It really doesn’t matter as each reason leads to the same result.
And I think that is the underlying point of this week’s study. God still speaks through His people. For Him to speak requires believers to allow the Holy Spirit to guide them and for the fallen to allow the Holy Spirit to convict them. Only then can God’s words be heard and fulfilled.
It’s been a great study. I purchased another study, The Man God Uses: Moved from the Ordinary to the Extraordinary, and offered it to them if they wanted to continue to do this work. We decided to defer a decision on it until next Friday, giving them a week to read through it and think about it. Perhaps they will find a different one or perhaps we’ll go in another direction entirely.
I did this study on my own when I was finding my way back to God a few years ago. I especially like the moving from the ordinary to the extraordinary focus because that is what we can become when we allow the Holy Spirit to control our lives. It focuses on becoming Christ-like, which should be our goal in all things.
Philippians 3:12â€“14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onwardâ€”to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
Nobody’s perfect. That truth, which ought to make us tremble before a God who is holy, holy, holy, is usually invoked instead to excuse sinful behavior, to make us feel better. How often do we hear people brush aside their own wrongdoing with the casual words, “Well, after all, nobody’s perfect”? People claim they’re not perfect to boost their self-esteem, but it is another evidence of a vanishing conscience. There is accuracy in the claim, but it should be a timid confession, not a flippant means of justifying sin.
Scripture recognizes that we are not perfect. Even the apostle Paul wrote, “Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12â€“14, emphasis added).
It is folly to think that being imperfect somehow provides us with a legitimate excuse to exempt us from God’s perfect standard.
We all fall short of perfectionâ€”way short. Paul teaches us that our own imperfection should only spur us on toward the goal of complete Christlikeness. When we begin to use our human frailty as an excuse from guilt, we are walking on dangerous ground. We must continue to press on toward the goal: “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:16). It is folly to think that being imperfect somehow provides us with a legitimate excuse to exempt us from God’s perfect standard.
MacArthur, J., F., Jr. (1994). The vanishing conscience (Electronic ed.). Logos Library Systems (126). Dallas: Word Pub.