Summary: How does God grow the character of Jesus in us? Peter shares his process for growing in Christlikeness.
Warning: I’m Under Construction Message – “Construction on Character”
We’re beginning a 4-part series today called: “Warning: I’m Under Construction”. That title is a light-hearted way of suggesting that all of us are like a building not yet complete, a painting not yet complete, a flower not yet fully bloomed.
All of us, no matter what others might think of us, are in process, we are being shaped, sculpted into something that has not yet taken it’s final and ultimate form.
Now in a way that’s obvious. We know that we have rough edges, we know that we have flaws, we know that we are not complete, we have a ways to grow.
We’re all under construction, including yours truly. And over the course of these 4 weeks we’re going to look at the construction, the building of our character, that’s today.
Next week it’s the building of our faith.
The week after that Pastor Jan will be speaking on the construction of our relationships and then, on the 4th Sunday we’re going to consider what it will be like when construction is complete, when the flower is in full bloom. Can we do that?
Let’s begin to probe our Scripture for today.
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
The Message paraphrase of Scripture puts the first part of that this way: “Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God”.
Now the first thing I want to say is that when we think of growing in character, or developing character strengths and losing character weaknesses, there are 2 traps we can fall into.
On the one hand, the first trap that is that we might lean toward a solution that puts all the pressure on us.
We might think the issue is purely one of disciplining ourselves to do things we really don’t feel like doing, behaving in ways that don’t feel natural. We might think that the path to godliness is just one big old drag.
In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. And at its core, growing in godliness has nothing to do with ‘doing’ anything. It has to do with loving God, with KNOWING Jesus.
The more a Christian learns about and comes to appreciate Jesus, learns what He has done for them, let’s that sink in.
The more a Christian reads the thoughts of God in the Bible and the words of Jesus, the more we are pulled into knowing Jesus, personally and intimately.
You know the Scripture that says “Bad company corrupts good character” 1 Corinthians 15:33. That’s very true, and we’d save ourselves a lot of misery if we were very careful about who we hang out with.
But the principal works the other way too. Good company nurtures good character, good behaviour.
And walking closely with Jesus, listening to His Word, praying, enjoying quiet times with Him, praising Him, worshipping Him.
When you do that you’re in His company. And being in Jesus presence is really how we become like Him, how our character grows.
Again, “Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God”.
So the solution is not just disciplining ourselves, and it’s definitely not beating ourselves up. That’s a trap we want to avoid. The solution is drawing near to Jesus. Taking time to know Him, to love Him. To worship Him. To rest at His feet.
But there’s a second trap that we can fall into when we consider growing in Christ-like character. We might, in our present age of smartphone instant-everything, we might want to find a way to accelerate, to speed up the growth of Christian character in us.
Rick Warren said that “It takes years for us to grow to adulthood, and it takes a full season for fruit to mature and ripen. The same is true for the fruit of the Spirit. The development of Christlike character cannot be rushed.
“When you try to ripen fruit quickly, it loses its flavor.
“In North America, tomatoes are usually picked unripened so they won’t bruise during shipping to the stores.
Then, before they are sold, these green tomatoes are sprayed with CO2 gas to turn them red instantly.
“Gassed tomatoes are edible, but they are no match to the flavor of a vine-ripened tomato that is allowed to mature slowly.