“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”
(1 John 3:2-3)
Waiting is difficult when we in a digital society. We get frustrated today because our movie takes a couple of minutes to download, forgetting that we used to have to actually drive to the store, pick out what’s available on the shelf, and hope that the person who watched it before you did the whole “be kind, rewind” thing on the VHS tape. We have convinced ourselves that everything we really need should come quickly and effortlessly, and when it doesn’t, something must be wrong.
The reality is, the things that have true, lasting value in our lives take time. Athletes know there are no shortcuts to success; champions only grow over time through hard work, discipline, and sacrifice. Financial success happens only through discipline, delayed gratification, and long-term planning. Healthy relationships take time, energy, and effort to maintain; they don’t just happen. Anything worth having requires dedication, effort, and patience.
This goes for our own maturity in our Christian walk. Growth in the Christian life doesn’t just happen, and it certainly doesn’t happen quickly. Simply growing older doesn’t bring maturity in faith and understanding. We say we want to grow in our faith and understanding, but are we ready to put in the work that is required for this growth to happen.
- We pray for patience, and God will put us in situations where patience is required.
- We pray for wisdom, and God will put us in situations where we must lean on His Word.
- We pray for faith, and God puts us in situations where we are racked with doubts and must learn to trust Him.
The living out of our faith in Christ is a slow, laborious process. There is never a plateau in the Christian journey, never a time when we have “arrived.” God is always working in us to bring us more into the likeness of Christ.
We are God’s children now, John says in our text today, but we are not yet what we shall be. By faith we trust that we have been united with Christ, justified in the eyes of God, covered by the righteousness of Christ. Even so, we continue to grow, trusting in the inward working of God’s Holy Spirit. Working toward that growth, we make use of the means that God has given:
- Regular Worship and sitting under faithful Teaching of God’s Word,
- Daily Study and Reflection on Scripture,
- Prayer – praising God, repenting of our sins, seeking His grace to guide you.
Somedays it seems like we’re making little to no headway. Instead of growing, we feel like we’re falling behind. But don’t give up! Watching your children grow every day you often don’t notice the changes. But when the Grandparents come to visit, what’s the first thing they say? “Look how you’ve grown!” God works His transforming grace often in slow, immeasurable ways, but in the end His work is perfect and complete.
As John’s letter says, everyone who hopes in the coming of Christ purifies himself as Christ is pure. Knowing who we are, and who Christ is making us to be, keep striving toward that goal of Christ-likeness until He appears and we are made like Him.