Grace for the process

I've known this for years, and yet its still a new concept: The Christian life is a process, not a one-time event.

I was thinking about Addie Zierman's phrase, the "Before and After hoax" and how the evangelical church is too prone to talk about the Christian life as conversion then happy ever after. Before, I was lost, totally miserable. Then I came to Christ and my problems went away.

Scripture does say we were dead and now we are alive in Christ. We are new creations. But I think that the newness, the aliveness is something we have to work out, something we experience step by step. Scripture also talks about faith in something we don't see, and about not giving up when we encounter fiery trials to refine and deepen our faith. Romans 6 talks about us being dead to sin. But Paul says in verse 11 to count ourselves dead to sin. Being dead to sin isn't something that just happens. We have to count on it, exercise our faith that this promise is true despite what our hearts say about it, and ask God for help.

That's what I tried to say in Covenant of Hope. There wasn't a single prayer event that in a single stroke healed the division and brought Stonegate church back together as it used to be. But the promises of God invited prayer, invited Ralph and Jim to cry out to God that this isn't how the church should be, and over time, sanity did return.

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