September 13th 2009

Complete In Christ

“…we are God’s workmanship , created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

“A few of the pastors in my region are discouraged,” a district superintendent said. “They haven’t been able to rally their churches to a vision of reaching out to the community. Some have general goals, but don’t have a specific vision. Others are frustrated because the congregation isn’t supporting the vision they have.”

Let me offer a few encouraging words for such pastors—and for members in their congregations.

It’s actually good to have goals larger than we can achieve. On an individual level, Christ calls for a goal far bigger than any of us can reach. He calls us to nothing less than perfection.

In Matthew 5:48, Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The Greek word translated “perfect” in that verse might better be rendered “complete,” or “whole.” The idea is to become the full measure of everything you were intended to be.

Now, who actually measures up to such a lofty goal?

Notice what Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:13: “It was [Christ] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

No one, not even the most faithful Christian, has ever attained to the “whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

But even though we, on our own strength, are unable to achieve complete wholeness in this life, we can still strive toward it, and without discouragement, because we know we are clothed not with our own righteousness, but with the righteousness of Christ.

Jesus Christ sets before us a job far beyond our abilities: to bring the gospel to the entire world.

Christian churches have been working at this for almost 2,000 years, and yet large segments of the world still have not been reached—and some areas once Christian are not Christian any more.

Still, we do not lose heart. We continue the work because Christ lives in us.

It is his work, and he will bring it to completion. We don’t need to worry about that. We just need to be faithful and trust him to take care of his work in spite of our weakness.

You know, if we were able to achieve all our goals, we would also be tempted to take the credit. We might claim to have the right method, the right formula for success, the right wisdom or even the right level of humility!

But because we fall short, we’re reminded that the tasks set before us are, in fact, humanly impossible.

The gospel is not a human work. We can’t take credit for conversions or even for spiritual growth. Instead, we learn to rely entirely on Christ.

We are his workmanship, and knowing he works in us to do his will, we can work all the more joyfully in his service. But we can never get it all done. Our ultimate hope, and our ultimate success, is fully in Jesus alone, who is both the Author and the Perfecter of our faith.

Prayer

Father, through your Holy Spirit use us for the work of the gospel of your Son, Jesus Christ, and help us not to lose heart in so doing.

Amen

Study by Joseph Tkach 

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