One Thing You Won't Acquire Quickly

The pace of life is accelerating. With the click of a button, you can purchase an album, or a book, or a shirt or a car. You can buy lunch in 3-5 minutes. You can heat said lunch in a microwave in 2-3 minutes. You can communicate with people via text and email. You can instantly acquire information on almost any conceivable subject. Some of you will travel 50 miles today, and think nothing of it.

We live in an age of immediacy. And we all reap the benefits. I love blog feeds, and carpool lanes, and "how to" videos on Youtube as much as the next guy. But there are setbacks to living in the 21st century. Our culture colors our perception of reality. I fear it leads us to misperceive the Christian life.

Here is one thing you won't acquire quickly: personal holiness. There are no shortcuts to sanctification. There is no trick, no formula, no gimmick, no spiritual discipline that will produce instant results.

God is in the process of making you like Jesus (Romans 8:29). The final stage of this process is called glorification. One day, you will be resurrected to life eternal. Your body will be completely liberated from sin and decay (Romans 8:18-25). You will always and only do what is pleasing to God. You won't want to do anything else. You will see Jesus with perfect clarity (1 John 3:2).

You will be perfect. But not on this side of the grave. Total glorification takes place after death. But the process of glorification begins at the moment of conversion. When we look to Jesus, God begins his work in us. And, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:18, God transforms us, "from glory to glory." Or, as the ESV puts it, "from one degree of glory to another." You are being changed. You're body is decaying, but your inner nature is being renewed (2 Corinthians 4:16). God's seed abides in you (1 John 3:9), and that seed is growing. Your desire for holiness is increasing. Conversely, you are increasingly grieved by acts of disobedience. Resisting God feels more exhausting than it used to. God began a good work in you, and God never leaves a task unfinished. But note this: God will not complete his work in you until Christ returns (Phil 1:6).

Perhaps you find this discouraging. Maybe sanctification seems too arduous. Remember this; growth is possible (see Romans 6). Grace is stronger than sin, and God is stronger than you. Take heart. God is not weak, inept, aloof or indifferent. He's just not working on your timetable.

So give up on mircowave spirituality. Abandon your search for that "one thing" which will magically propel you to spiritual maturity. Don't put your hope in a spouse, or a retreat, or a book, or a relationship. Instead, trust in Jesus.

God is changing an acorn into a mighty oak, not a frozen pizza into dinner.