Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Sanctification And The Gonzaga-North Carolina Game

Last night we watched the NCAA basketball championship game between Gonzaga and North Carolina.  In all honesty, it wasn't a very good basketball game.  Even North Carolina coach Roy Williams thought so, calling it "an ugly game".  Both teams were sluggish, stiff, ungraceful, and just seemed out of sync.  The referees were't much of a help either blowing their whistles so often they, rather than the teams playing, controlled the pace of the game.  But, interspersed among all the missed shots, missed opportunities, fouls, turnovers, and some really poor performances by all involved there were some really great moments that brought the crowd to its feet too.

Probably, more than anything, what impressed me about this particular game was the fact that the players, in spite of how bad and how ugly their game looked, didn't walk off the court and quit until the final buzzer sounded.  They kept running the plays, as sluggish and sloppy as they were, totally committed to finishing.  At the final buzzer two exhausted teams left the court.  Both had persevered to the end.  Their performances were anything but stellar but they finished and in the end this is what registered with me.  Real basketball teams....real basketball players play all the way to the buzzer no matter how well or poorly they are playing.  That's just what they do!

All-in-all, the game reminded me of what sanctification--at least mine looks like.  Simply put, sanctification is the theological term we use when talking about the process every true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ goes through in this life, after salvation, of becoming more and more like Christ.  This process of sanctification or growing in Christ entails fighting and saying no to personal sin and yes to God by the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit in which the believer's life is characterized more and more by such qualities as joy, love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  It is a time of growth in Who God is, what the Bible teaches, obedience to the Word of God, and building and maintaining relationships with other believers.  But, it is not a process characterized by sinless perfection.  That doesn't happen until Heaven.  It is characterized by perseverance though.  Real believers keep growing and keep going in spite of how ugly and messy their fight with sin and fight to be holy often looks.  That's just what they do!

I don't know about you, but my sanctification has been a pretty messy process.  Likening it to the basketball game, there have been days, weeks, months, hey there have even been years when it seemed like I missed far more shots than I made, sluggishly stumbled through most of the plays, couldn't get in the groove, had very little momentum, and.....well, I hate to admit it.....talked a much better game than I played.  Now, this is not to say there haven't been some great moments--some really unbelievable "bring the crowd to its feet" moments because there have been.  They have been few and far between but there have been some.  There's also been some growth, which while slow in coming is still real and enduring.  And there has been perseverance.....by the grace of God and only by the grace of God......I am still in the game, still on the court, still running, still shooting, still playing "D", still cheering my teammates on, still fouling, still being fouled, still making the plays even if they're not pretty, with never a thought of quitting until the final buzzer sounds.  And in our sanctification this is what matters because real churches.....real Christians keep fighting their sin, keep pursuing holiness, keep cheering their fellow-believers on, keep confessing their sins, keep themselves in the Word, keep praying, keep serving, and keep on keeping on no matter how ugly it sometimes looks.  That's just what we do!

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Pursuing the Glory of Christ as though He were the most important pursuit in all the world--Because He Is!

" Looking for the Blessed Hope and the appearing of The Glory of our Great God and Savior, Christ Jesus." Titus 2:13