If you are aware of your growth process into the likeness of Christ as a Christian, you are probably aware that you move a lot slower than you thought you would when you started out. You are probably aware that you have far more passionate inclinations towards sin than you thought you would. You are probably aware that you do not love God near as much as you would like to. And on and on your awareness may go.
Yet at the same time, much of what is celebrated on our church stages week-to-week and year after year is the spectacular sanctification moments in various lives.
“God saved me from drug addiction in an instant!”
“I went from hating God to loving him with everything in me, reading my Bible for hours every day, staying up all night in prayer!”
“I just feel God’s presence is so near when I wake up, when I eat lunch, and when I am falling asleep!”
Catch the drift?
The testimonies we hear often most celebrated in church are the spectacular ones about our sanctification process. Yet, the average Christian-joe out there then compares his story to those stories and probably thinks, “Well, I have never had those kind of experiences.” The average self-aware Christian looks at himself and thinks, “My faith is so much weaker, my love so much softer, and my experience seemingly so much less-awesome than that Christian.”
The result? Thousands and thousands of Christians who discount all the radical grace that has been given to them by God; the grace that has put within them a real faith in Jesus, a real love for God, a real hatred for sin, and a real love for righteousness. It is all discounted because it does not look as spectacular as others; as wondrous, as “powerful”. It is all discounted because their experience as a Christian supposedly pales in comparison to the freed-in-an-instant drug addict.
This is so sad to me because it is so biblically wrong. For one thing, we often seem to celebrate ourselves and our growth far more than we do the perfect Savior and his perfect work that needs no growth. But for this post, let me focus on the other thing that is wrong and devastating about this reality: So many of the testimonies we most celebrate are ironically the ones most rare. C. J. Mahaney, commenting on how we so often miss what God is doing, and working in our own lives, says it like this:
“So often…most of these people [average Christians] aren’t aware God is at work because to them it doesn’t appear spectacular. And so too many Christians have one category: If God is at work, it’s spectacular. But if it’s not spectacular, God is not at work. But oh, listen, God does some of his best work subtlety.”
The subtlety of God so often missed and discounted, if noticed, could bring so much vigor and joy to so many Christians. If we would only celebrate it in our own lives and in the lives of our beloved brothers and sisters. Today, take notice of the subtle grace of God in your life. Remember your conversion experience, or the season God was bringing you to Jesus, or maybe the fact that he saved you so young you don’t remember it. Remember the grace of God. Take notice of the grace of God. And expect the grace of God in your future.