This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC on May 24 2015.
‘How can you expect a man to make a journey of a thousand miles if he is unwilling or unable to take the first step?’ This question (a quote from a sermon I once heard) sums up the thoughts I have more and more often concerning the young people I pastor. The Christian life is above all else a life lived for Christ. It involves repentance from cherished sin, relinquishing your own goals, and submission of your own and society’s sense of propriety in lieu of trusting in a God whole is more and more alien to our culture.
Why does anyone do this? Those of us who do do this know that this apparent sacrifice is small compared to what we hope for. We can relate to the man in Jesus’ parable, who, “finding a treasure hidden in a field, in his joy, goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” so that he can possess that treasure (Matt. 13:44). The reason why anyone does this is that they are converted. They have been changed on the inside by the Holy Spirit. The things of this life have grown ‘strangely dim’ as the things of God captivate us in their place.
To be a Christian, one must be converted (although it could be the case that no identifiable conversion “experience” has occurred). Mere appearances are not enough. The promise of a new heart and a new spirit (Ezek. 36:26-27) must be realised in someone for them to begin, continue and complete that journey of a thousand miles that leads us into the welcoming presence of God.