As someone in the middle of the journey of following after Jesus I found this article by Frank Viola very accurate and encouraging. Perhaps it will likewise encourage you or someone you know.
Jesus Christ has seven ministries today. One of them is the Author and Finisher of our Faith. In this role, whatever Jesus has begun in your life, He has promised to complete (see Phil. 1:6). That’s great news!
The beginning of the Christian life is easy. The end is joyous. But the middle is where the fiercest battles take place, and many fall away. The real test of faith comes in the middle of our journey.
Jesus is the trailblazer, pathfinder and pilgrim of God’s way. This is the meaning of Christ being the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Not only did Jesus blaze the trail, but He also finished the pilgrimage. And He gives His people the strength to tread where He trod and arrive where He awaits.
I wish someone had told me the following things when I was walking on the clouds of the newfound joy of my salvation at age 16. This list goes beyond the typical recommendations for new believers (read the Bible, pray regularly, get involved in a fellowship, etc.). I’m not mentioning those, as they are “givens.”
The list doesn’t represent any kind of order or priority. Rather, this list offers some honest insights and practical advice for your journey as a believer:
1. Christians will break your heart.
The greatest pain you will receive will be at the hands of fellow and professing believers.
2. Not everyone who professes Christ knows Him.
The fruit of real faith is love—treating all others the same way you want to be treated.
3. God will not meet all of your expectation.
And he will sometimes appear not to fulfill His own promises.
4. You will experience dry spells where there is no sense of God’s presence.
Learn to live by faith, not feelings.
5. Build a library and read the best Christian books in print.
Don’t waste your time on “pop” Christian books. Go for depth.
6. Write your goals down (goals = dreams = prayer requests).
And document when a prayer or goal is answered or fulfilled.
7. Never judge other Christians unless you’ve walked in their shoes.
Always think the best of others (Matt. 7:12).
8. Choose a mentor.
But never choose one who is insecure, speaks negatively about others or has an inflated ego.
9. Some of the things you struggle with now you will struggle with when you are old.
Resist condemnation (Rom. 8:1).
10. Many of the answers you have now will prove inadequate later in life.
Always be a student and a child in the kingdom.
11. Never bluff an answer to someone’s biblical or theological question if you don’t know the answer.
Learn to say, “I don’t know.”
12. Discover who you are in Christ, and learn what it means to live by His indwelling life.
While there is a great deal of talk today about following Jesus and being a disciple, very little airtime has been given to discovering how to live by Christ’s indwelling life.
This is both tragic and ironic, because we cannot follow Jesus or properly be His disciple if we don’t know how to live by His life.
And this is the heart of the New Testament and the gospel.
“Christ in you, the hope of glory” … “Not I, but Christ lives in me.”
~ This article is an excerpt from Frank Viola’s new book, Jesus Now: Unveiling the Present-Day Ministry of Christ.
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2014. All rights reserved.