Summary: Are you changed by the Spirit, made one of God's good guys?
The word, Complete, is defined in my Collegiate Dictionary as “lacking nothing; whole; entire; having all the required or customary characteristics, skills ” A Complete Christian is one that has applied himself to being whole through Jesus Christ, who will not settle for less than the best that Christ has for him.
My call as your Pastor is to point you to completion in Christ, men and women who are serious about being world-class Christians who make the world a better place and who are catalysts for Kingdom of God.
Our text for this series speaks to what it means to be a complete Christian, not in the sense that we have reached the end of our need to grow, but rather as one fully engaged, fully prepared to live for Christ. A couple of weeks ago, we learned from this passage that Gd has given everything we need ‘for life and godliness!’
Please do not hear this series as one simply motivating you to self improvement. It is important to commit to spiritual and mental growth, but the Complete Christian does not emerge out of self-actualization! This is a work of the Spirit, the result of continuing FAITH that trusts God. This faith lets us ‘see’ what we can become in Christ and then keeps us steady when it appears that we cannot reach the goal.
That is just the beginning, however.
“Make every effort to add to your faith.....” And then we find seven traits of a complete Christian -
∙ Brotherly kindness, and
Imagine if the Creator had become bored or weary and decided that instead of making the universe all 'very good,' (Genesis 1:31) He had settled for “good enough!” We observe that God went for design that is wondrous, full of beauty, and marked by excellence. Since this is how our God chose to prepare the world for us, doesn’t make sense that we choose to serve Him with excellence?
Inspiring Peter, the Spirit challenges us to commit ourselves to a life of goodness
“Add to faith, GOODNESS.” The KJV says, VIRTUE.
Goodness, in the Bible is a robust word, that speaks of moral excellence and character worthy of admiration.
In the first language of the New Testament, Greek, the word is ARETE. It derives from a root that means: to raise up, elevate, lift up.
We live in a society that is increasingly low, full of compromise, with little commitment to moral excellence.
Our entertainment is full of things lewd and crude. Much of our art is incomprehensible splashes of clashing colors, nothing like the great works of the masters of the 18th century.
Our world could stand a few more truly good people who would, by their example and encouragement,
RAISE THE STANDARD. Sin leads us into a moral swamp where there is no shame, no sense of offense, no striving for the best.
A caution : Do not confuse genuine goodness with its false look-alike; sanctimony.
What is sanctimony? Sanctimonious people are “ pre-occupied with building an image of devotion and/or religiosity.” Jesus dealt with sanctimonious people all of the time. He told them they resembled ‘white-washed tombs, full of death’ and that ‘they shut the Kingdom in the face of those who would enter’ though they themselves did not even truly keep the Law!
Colossians warns Christians about turning to a list of moral rules ‘Don’t touch that. Don’t go there. Don’t do this,’ in a vain attempt to become virtuous people. Then, we are told - "you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth." (Colossians 3:1-2, NLT)
The goodness to which we are challenged comes from a Christ-centered life, a brand new focus, and a heart-deep transformation.
That is not to suggest that becoming truly good happens to us magically or without our involvement! We can learn about the goodness God asks of us by studying Matthew 25. In that chapter Jesus tells three stories about judgement. He is teaching us, in story form, about the kind of life that will stand up to His inspection when we appear before Him.
∙ First, he tells of 10 young women invited to a wedding. Five of them took extra oil so as to be prepared for delay. Five of them failed to anticipate any problems and thus missed the great event.
Goodness involves taking the long view, being prepared for the unexpected situations that life thrusts on us.
∙ Next he told of a rich man who was going away for a long time. He entrusted some of his wealth to three servants to use in his absence. They were expected to give account of how they had used the money in investments when the rich man returned. Those who had done their job and put the money to work received this commendation: Matthew 25:23 "`Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' (NIV)