How Long Does It Take?

by pastortimfowler

Have you ever seen someone who a few months ago was doing really well and today they are hardly recognizable as the person you thought that you knew? What I am talking about is the type person that use to come to church, was very active in worship and serving and seemed to have their act together, and one day they just quit coming. So you run into them and they have began to live a lifestyle that has no resemblance to who you knew them to be just a little while ago. How does this happen?
Today I finished reading 2 Chronicles in the Old Testament. It chronicles the time in the Jewish history after the period of judges up to the captivity of the Babylonian empire. In short summaries we hear of each king and their actions and how their rule effected the people of Israel. Those kings who followed the ways of God and passed that on to their people were blessed and the nation was blessed and those who did not follow God’s ways brought on misery for the themselves and the people.
Because these are short summaries of each king’s reign it often looks like a rapid decline in morality, when in reality things progressed over a few years, but from time to time you could see the fall take place within months. In these cases the kings before them who tried to follow God, often forgot or refused to destroy the places where idols were worshiped. They would try to make people happy on both sides and play church when it was convenient and please the idol worshipers when that was convenient. As a result, when a king would come in behind him who did not follow God at all, the fall of the people happened very fast and often in months.
Becoming a Christian happens at the blink of an eye. The very moment that we repent and accept Christ as Savior, we become a Christian. The growth of Christians takes time and effort. We must build new habits and tear down the things that are not pleasing to God. Often times we will leave those bad things alone and just try to build our Christian faith around it. We do all the right things and ignore those that are counter productive to our growth. Often in this period of Israel’s history, a new king would come along and try to restore things to God but leave the idols and their alters in place. The effort was always full of conflict because it is easy to worship something that does not hold you accountable. Idols don’t, God does.
God wants us to tear down and destroy the things that distract us from following Him fully. If they are destroyed they can’t tempt later. But the people who fall away, like I mentioned in the beginning, are those who usually just tried to build around the old ways and not get rid of them.
There is no way the we can ever live a totally sinless life as long as we are flesh and blood. But the Holy Spirit in us does allow us to continually work toward holiness. We do need to build new ways into our lives. We need to lay a new foundation and use fresh, new material that God provides. But often before we build we need to spend time doing a bit of demolition. We must tear out the old foundation and things that our lives had been built upon. God is giving us a new foundation in Jesus Christ.
So when you see someone who has fallen away and it seems like they have only taken a short time to fall a long way, remember this. God wants the old stuff destroyed, not moved around or built around. He wants us to start over with newness and build on one solid foundation, not covering up the old one because we like it too much to get rid of.
I tell my staff all the time that we are all closer than we will ever want to admit to falling into our old ways. I warn them and they warn me of things of the past that need to be torn down and gotten rid of. I encourage you to take a few minutes in prayer and ask God to play building inspector and look around to see if there might be some things you need to work on. I surely don’t want to run into you one day and see you in a broken mess and wonder, how long did it take?

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One Comment to “How Long Does It Take?”

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