“I think people try to make it too complicated. You know? Like Jesus meets us where we are, right? So I can go to church and all and still do what I do – still just be me.”
These words were paraphrased from a real conversation I had with a coworker a few years ago. She attended a mega-church some of the time. She drank somewhat regularly despite the fact that she was only 19 years old. She had recently moved in with her boyfriend. She believed that she was a Christian.
I know I’m treading dangerous ground right now, especially with the ideas of tolerance that permeate society today. But something needs to be said.
Yes, Jesus meets us where we are. Absolutely. And it’s a good thing too. If He didn’t meet us where we were then there would be no way for us to meet Him at all. We would be hopeless; doomed to sit on our own islands and watch His glory from a distance for all of our lives.
Jesus meets us where we are. But He doesn’t leave us there. And if we’re still the person that we were before we met Him then did we really encounter Him at all? Shouldn’t an encounter with the Living God leave some sort of mark?
Shouldn’t we be changed?
The fact of the matter is that, on our own, each and every one of us is filthy in comparison with God. Maybe not in comparison with certain other people (and that’s what makes us feel better about ourselves, isn’t it?) but in comparison with God? With the Almighty, Perfect Creator of All? Even the best of us is a pig, wallowing in a septic tank.
And we’ve been sold the idea that we don’t have to change our ways to find salvation with God. And perhaps that is partially true – a pig, stuck in a septic tank, cannot escape its prison unless someone on the outside steps in and rescues it. But the analogy doesn’t end here. What happens to the pig when it is found? Does the one who discovers the pig stand near the edge of the tank and tell the pig that it is safe? “I’ve got you now,” the pig’s savior hollers down, “just hang out down there and trust that you’re safe with me.”
Of course not. That would be ridiculous.
The pig’s savior pulls the pig out of the septic tank, hoses it off, and closes the tank so the pig can’t fall in again.
The pig, however, being a pig, had been enjoying the septic tank and so the savior of the pig changes the pig into a new creature – a clean creature (a sheep might be a fitting choice) which will not crave the mud and muck any longer.
So many people in this world today – in this nation in particular – believe that they can say a prayer and check off a box – and that they never need to concern themselves with anything beyond that moment. “…I can go to church and all and still do what I do – still just be me.”
Are we making it too easy? Are we making the Christian walk seem like a moment that doesn’t need to affect the rest of our lives?
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25, ESV
That doesn’t sound easy to me. So why are we trying to make it easy when Jesus made it clear that it is a hard and dangerous road?
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!” 1 Cor. 5:17, CSB
Did you catch that? A new creation. As in: not a pig-wallowing-in-the-mud anymore. Or, at least, you shouldn’t be, not if you’re in Christ.
That means that if Christ has rescued you – if you claim to be saved by Him – there should be some difference between who you were before and who you are now.
Because He doesn’t leave pigs in septic tanks. Not if they’ll let Him rescue them. Not if they’ll let Him make them a new creation.
And they’ll leave their mud-wallowing days behind them. Not because of their own will-power. But because the sheep will follow the Shepherd. The sheep will love the Shepherd.
If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” – The Shepherd, John 14:15, ESV
There have been a lot of great things happening at the Ranch in the past few weeks. Working without a co-mentor is exhausting! There’s so much to get done and it never seems like there are enough hours in the day to do it all. But somehow, by the grace of God, I’m managing. He has been incredibly faithful. My first two days running the house by myself were unseasonably warm – a great blessing from God – He knows just how to encourage me! The following week we had a run-in with the stomach bug in the house which was going to cause some serious logistical issues during my solo days – and, once again, God provided a way. Both days – which would have required the help of several other staff members to fill in for things I couldn’t do because I had a quarantined teenager in the house – ended up as snow days! And though those snow days were challenging in their own right (and exciting as well!), I know that they were far less complicated and stressful than they would have been otherwise – yet another “little” miracle from the Lord.
We have welcomed a new boy into the house and, though he is sometimes a joy to work with, he is struggling to adjust to some aspects of Ranch life, particularly in regard to submitting to authority. Prayers for his adjustment would be greatly appreciated as well as prayers for the house staff to have adequate patience to keep working with him, extending grace, and showing love each day.
And pray for more mentors to apply! We could use several new mentors right now as each of the houses would benefit from an additional mentor. And here’s my shameless plug: if you or someone you know is a twenty-something person who loves God and loves kids and/or teenagers and is looking for a job – look into the mentor position here at Wears Valley Ranch. It’s not an easy job but it is rewarding in its own right. I have learned so much in the five months I’ve been here and I know I will continue to learn and grow in the months to come. And I’ve fallen in love with so many of the kids – even the annoying ones! Okay, shameless plug over.
Grace and Peace,