Being a Christian takes Practice

Since the invention of the digital cameras and software like Photoshop and Corel Painter, I have become obsessed with learning to take pictures like a professional and how to create art using computer software. The learning curve has been extremely painful and expensive in time and money yet it has not deterred me in the least to keep trying with one practice attempt after another. I have spent hundreds of dollars in photo paper that has only been seen by the shredder which promised to never reveal my inadequacies. Hours have seemed wasted at times but I do realize that each failure and each success is getting me one more step toward my dream one day at time.

A relative and I recently had a debate on what was the real definition of being a Christian. He, not being a church going person, thought it referred to anyone who was very religious no matter what the religion referring to anyone who tried very hard to do good or the right thing. I had to point out the fallacy of that logic. Being Christian isn't following just any religion's morals but it is specifically following the teachings of Christ. Being a Christian does not mean you attend a Christian church but it means you are a follower and doer of Christ's teachings. (1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.)

The day you repented of being a sinner and was forgiven is the same day you were promised justification and was sanctified. Justification means that on judgment day you will not be charged guilty of your sins. You will be acquitted. You will be saved or spared from the deserved punishment of your crimes or sins against God. Not because of anything you have done but because the Father simply promised that anyone that put all their faith in and repentance toward Christ, his son, and what He did would be given the same life and rights as Christ.

Sanctification, however, is another story. Christian sanctification means to be set aside or chosen to think and act like Christ. Every person who has been saved was also chosen to be set aside to mirror or reflect Christ to someone else. Just telling others about Christ is not completely effective. You have to tell it and live it for it to have any impact. Actually, living it says more than telling it. Don't you agree with the famous idiom, "Actions speak louder than words"?

It is up to us, with assistance from the Holy Spirit, to work on our own sanctification which takes daily practice every moment of our life whether or not we are alone behind closed doors, somewhere in public, or at work . Salvation or justification is not daily earned but sanctification is. In cutting to the chase, sanctification takes PRACTICE. It can also be painful, expensive in time and money, and require endurance. We must accept each success and failure one day at a time.

I am not going to list all the behaviors that Christians should practice at work. I believe anyone reading this knows what is expected of people who desired to be a Christian. I have worked in public since I was sixteen years old and like most I have come across every type of person there is in the world at one time or another. You have the ones who are jealous, after your job, loves to put others down to lift themselves up, chooses to be your enemy for some unknown reason, knows how to push your buttons, is always complaining, has a odd personality, lives and talks immorally, backstabs, is the wrong choice for that job position , etc etc etc.

Since being a Christian takes practice let's establish a practice lesson just like we would practice other skills like photography, playing a music instrument, cooking, painting, singing, and/or playing sports. You cannot do any of these just once and be perfect at it or learn them at the same time on the same day. Neither can we learn and perfect our Christian skills immediately and all at the same time.

Practice lesson #1. Let's make a list with three columns. Label the columns accordingly:
1) Name
2) Problem I have with this person
3) Teachings of Christ of how to deal with this type person.
List some people with whom you have frequent contact and problems with. Now pick only one person from this list and begin to practice Christ's teaching the next time you have contact with that person. We will fail. That is okay. Let's learn from our mistake and try again next time. We will eventually get it right and will begin to see the reward of being a genuine Christian as God promised. (Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.)

If you are willing to practice with me, please write us and let us know what is working and not working for you. You are not alone. We all struggle with the natural inclinations of the human flesh and pride which always seem to take over in the most inopportune times. Human retaliation to the unchristian behavior of others is self-serving. God wants us to be Christ-serving so that another person can come to know Christ to the fullest including salvation and then repeat the process for another.

Let us pray.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We want to thank you so much for your love for the human race. I completely understand Job's question of "What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?" (Job 7:17). Thank you for your grace and mercy toward us.

We beg you to be with us during our daily trials and our sanctification process. We cannot do it without the constant guidance and teachings of your Holy Spirit. Guide us to be truthful in making out our list and bring to mind the person you most desire us to be a genuine Christian witness to as we go about our daily work.

Remind and lead us to your teachings in your Word. Help us apply them with complete obedience while setting aside our evil pride. And please reward us by allowing us to witness the effect of that obedience to your honor and glory for encouragement.

Marilyn H Spicer