Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began! (John 17:24)
Read: Acts 6:1 – 8:1
Relate: The one thing I love about working with college students is that they know everything. Just ask them. They are sure to tell you whatever you need to know about whatever it is you happen to be discussing. Sometimes if you are lucky you might even find a fact or two buried deep inside their firmly entrenched and completely unshakable opinion. In a way I feel a bit sorry for them. As the years go by, wisdom and experience will seem to drive so much of their “knowledge” away. At least, that is what will happen for the wisest of those students. There are some who will never seem to grow up. On the flip side, why on earth are so many students spending tens of thousands of dollars getting an education when they so clearly already know everything?
I was there once. When I was in Bible college I got into many various debates about theoretical, often obscure and pointless issues. It was in one of these debates that I realized that a friend of mine had a deeper issue that needed to be rooted out. He was convinced that every time anybody sins they have backslidden. Now don’t get me wrong, I do not believe in eternal security the way it is commonly understood. I do not believe that just because someone sincerely and passionately prayed a prayer of repentance and surrender to God when they were twelve means that they are still “good” as a forty year old, drunk, high, adulterous, atheistic adult. I do not for a second believe “once saved always saved”.
That said, there is such a thing as grace. Maybe my college student friend was a lot better at living out his walk than I was. For me, there didn’t and still doesn’t seem be more than a few hours, perhaps a day or two at best, before I trip up somehow. Perhaps it is pride, maybe apathy, a lie, all too often it is a sin of omission. Sooner or later, on a fairly consistent basis I find myself sinning. I am at war with sin. I am being sanctified by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit as I work out my salvation, but very clearly I am not there yet. This friend of mine was convinced that if I happened to tell a lie, or have a lustful thought, or… I don’t know, pick the sin, and then died suddenly before having a chance to repent, I would end up in hell. In other words, we live a good segment of our everyday lives, even as we desire to follow Jesus, in a backslidden state.
React: Jesus wants us to be in heaven with Him far more than we want to get there. As much as I long to live in heaven and to be in the perfect unfiltered presence of God, He longs to be with me even more. God loves me. He loves us. This isn’t some game of spiritual whack-a-mole He is playing just trying to bash us down at the right moment every time one of our failures rears its ugly head. He has a better grip on us than that. Just because God won’t hold us in His hands against our will doesn’t mean He is going to drop us to the floor every time we mess the diaper. In this life there will be messes. In my war against sin there will be battles lost. But as long as I continue to fight, as long as I am still trying to follow after Him, then I am secure in His hands.
God, forgive me for my sin. I am not perfect and I fail, far too often. Forgive me. As I try to follow after You, help me to do so out of love, not out of fear. Help me to trust in Your love to keep me and in Your mercy to forgive me as Your grace sanctifies me through time. You have purchased my by Your blood on that cross and that grace is enough. Help me to ever grow closer to You. Help me to live ever closer to You each day even though, like a child, I don’t have this walking thing down perfect yet and there will be times I fall.