Summary: Why should deveopling Christ-like character be a priority for the Christian?
A wife remarked to her husband after the church service: "Did you see the hat Mrs. Jones was wearing?" "No," said her husband, "I didn’t." "Did you see the new dress Mrs. Smith had on?" she asked. "I’m afraid I didn’t," said her husband. To this his wife replied: "Well a lot of good it does YOU to go to church!"
Let me ask you, "What good is it doing you to come to church?" Perhaps another question is more appropriate, "Why do we, as Christians, come to church?" I mean, really, why put forth the effort to hear God’s Word preached and taught? Why fellowship with other believers? What is the purpose of it all?
The answer is that God calls us to become more like Jesus!
A. It is my eternal destiny.
"My dear friends, we are already God’s children, though what we will be hasn’t yet been seen. But we do know that when Christ returns, we will be like him, because we will see him as he truly is."
- 1 John 3:2 (CEV)
B. Is to be my daily pursuit.
"I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)
Ask for a volunteer from the congregation. Have them stand at the bottom of the platform and take hold of their wrist. Explain that you can help them up to your level by your own effort alone, but that greater success is achieved if they will take hold of your wrist, as well. This is the imagery Paul is using in Philippians 3:12.
Through His sovereign working in my life, God has taken hold of me. Through my daily surrender to His purpose, I take hold of Him!
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son."- Romans 8:28-29 (NASB)
As I daily surrender to God’s purpose of making me like Jesus (called according to His purpose), God is free to sovereignly use the details of my life to teach me how to experience as much of the blessing of my eternal destiny as possible here and now!
The Bible would have us understand that if I will focus on becoming more like Jesus in my daily life; if I will give priority to Christian character development, allowing God to work in my life to change me from the inside out, all the details of my life will fall into place. Let’s notice what Peter has to tell us about making Christian character development a priority. Why should developing Christ-like character be a priority for believers?
1. It will insure that my life is not wasted - v. 8
Some of you may remember the movie "City Slickers." Comedian Billy Crystal plays the part of a bored baby boomer named Mitch, who sells radio advertising time. One the day he visits his son’s school to tell about his work along with other fathers. He suddenly lets loose a deadpan monologue to the bewildered youngsters in the class: "Value this time in your life, kids, because this is the time in your life when you still have your choices. It goes by fast. When you’re a teenager, you think you can do anything and you do. Your twenties are a blur. Thirties you raise your family, you make a little money, and you think to yourself, ‘What happened to my twenties?’ Forties, you grow a little pot belly, you grow another chin. The music starts to get too loud, one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother. Fifties, you have a minor surgery -- you’ll call it a procedure, but it’s a surgery. Sixties, you’ll have a major surgery, the music is still loud, but it doesn’t matter because you can’t hear it anyway. Seventies, you and the wife retire to Fort Lauderdale. You start eating dinner at 2:00 in the afternoon, you have lunch around 10:00, breakfast the night before, spend most of your time wandering around malls looking for the ultimate soft yogurt and muttering, ‘How come the kids don’t call? How come the kids don’t call?’ The eighties, you’ll have a major stroke, and you end up babbling with some Jamaican nurse who your wife can’t stand, but who you call mama. Any questions?"
Later in the film, Mitch and his friends go on a cattle drive at a dude ranch, led by a character named Curly, played by Jack Palance. In one scene, Mitch and Curly discuss the meaning of life. Curly raises one finger and tells Mitch that the meaning of life in "one thing."