Having spent the better part of my life as a student, from 2yrs in kindergarten (an illustration for another day) through to Grad School, I notched 20 consecutive years in school. I believe I’m qualified to speak to issues of the classroom. I had many wonderful teachers and the consistent reality for each was that every year they had to accept a fresh group of kids who were by all accounts, immature, irresponsible, below average, some even troubled, and everyone of them, myself included, thought they were smarter and brighter than they actually were.
These teachers were gracious and kind. They understood we were growing and maturing and learning. In fact, none of my teachers had a problem with any of their students because of how they entered their education. The problem arose when a student was unwilling to learn and grow. When a student was satisfied to remain in the limited knowledge they entered the class in the teacher became frustrated, discouraged, and always disappointed.
Disappointment because of lack of growth did not mean the teachers didn’t care or were being harsh or cruel demanding more of their students. In truth, that expectation demonstrated great care, and some might say love, for their students. The expectation of learning and growth was the direct result of knowledge our teachers had of what was possible and what we were capable of as a result of that learning and growing.
It has become a well rehearsed and widely accepted lie that because God loves all of us and accepts anyone who will come to Him in faith and repentance, He also wants us to be as happy as we can make ourselves by doing whatever we want and remaining as we were before we turned to God by faith in Jesus Christ.
Scripture tells us very clearly that before coming to God, through faith in Christ’s sacrifice at the cross as payment for our sins, we were without true knowledge, ignorant, selfish, confused, ashamed, and loved sin.
It is true that God loves all men and welcomes them to come no matter their attitude, appearance, or past, but it is equally true that He has every desire and intention that we would grow in the knowledge and grace of the Lord we now know. Growth as a result of knowledge is equitable to conformity to the image of Christ. That means that no matter who we are when we come to Christ there is an expectation that we would not remain the same.
“Easy Believism” is the identifying name of this grand lie. Easy Believism says to come to God and please Him takes only believing in Jesus as Savior and says nothing of the expectations that God Himself has of those who bear His name, Christians.
Jesus Christ is God become man, He is our Savior, and He is also the greatest teacher to ever live. Jesus Christ gladly welcomed the poor and the wealthy, the sick and the healthy, the decent and the defiled, the ‘sinners’ and the ‘saints’, but he never once evidenced anything but disappointment and righteous contempt for those who were willing to remain as they had been before coming to him. To encounter Christ and leave unchanged is evidence of having an empirical knowledge of Christ(you know who he is) without having a personal knowledge of who he is(you’ve repented of sin trusting Christ alone for salvation). God stands ready and willing to accept a fresh group of ‘kids’ who are by all accounts, immature, irresponsible, below average, some even troubled, and everyone of them thinking they are smarter and brighter than they actually are.
Christ’s final instruction in Matthew 28 would not have included instruction to teach all things that He had commanded if He cared not whether men changed their attitudes, actions, desires, motivations, and beliefs as a result of their encounter with Him.
To openly declare we know God through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ demands that our lives represent, through changed and growing attitudes, actions, desires, motivations, and beliefs, a personal knowledge of Christ
When God welcomes all with open arms it is a welcome into a relationship where we are exposed to the truth and in that knowledge there is growth out of our past failures and into the conforming work of Christ.
As those who have come to God’s welcoming embrace we ought to strive every day to be learning and growing in Christ, not fighting to stay the same.