A Brief Reflection
Joshua Barron, a friend of mine and missionary among the Maasai and other tribes in Kenya, recently shared the above image and provided this writing prompt: “The quote (obviously) is Tekletsadik’s. The questions are mine. What are your answers?”
Good questions, Joshua. From one Joshua to another, I appreciate the opportunity to reflect on this and express it in writing. In a remarkable feat of brevity, I will provide simply the following at this time:
In short, though far from a comprehensive picture, I think one cross-section of my story (the story my life tells, and God’s story as his salvation history unfolds in my life) is the continued transformation (by the grace of Christ and the power of his finished work of atonement on the cross) of a moralist who agrees with and thinks often of God’s Word to a grace-dependent doer of God’s will as revealed in the Word. In this transformation, I am practically learning to first give up the idea that I can do God’s will apart from recurring surrender and God-reliance. Prayer is one form of surrender to note that I am still learning to grow in.
Cultural-linguistic factors? When raised in a region called “the Bible Belt,” an Evangelical and American melting pot of religious involvement, one can learn to agree with God’s Word from an early age but not truly comply with its radical call to obedience and self-sacrifice, or utilize God’s grace in so doing. Nonetheless, grace is present even in the attraction to his Word, because not all are attracted to it. For that I am thankful.
Additionally, like Paul when he confessed he had not yet attained perfection, even in my own imperfect journey I have — amidst many trials, suffering, and also practical areas of repentance in turning from sin toward God — continued to “press on” toward the goal of the high calling in Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14) by God’s grace. Yet I have learned that one must cross from desire for good to transformation, and that only happens through the in-working of the Spirit and out-working of sacrificial obedience arising from faith (cf. also Philippians 2:12-13). Faith in Christ doesn’t merely involve being “once saved” but further being “daily saved” by the working of his power in me (1 Corinthians 15:2). And this is a story I can share with others as well: about the abundant, transformative life to be found in Jesus Christ alone — if only one will come to the well of living water and drink (John 4:13-14).
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