“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”
The following is taken from The Set of the Sail, by A.W. Tozer:
“Our most pressing obligation today is to do all in our power to obtain a revival that will result in a reformed, revitalized, purified church. It is of far greater importance that we have better Christians than that we have more of them. Each generation of Christians is the seed of the next, and degenerate seed is sure to produce a degenerate harvest not a little better than but a little worse than the seed from which it sprang. Thus the direction will be down until vigorous, effective means are taken to improve the seed.…
“To carry on these activities [evangelism, missions] scripturally the church should be walking in fullness of power, separated, purified and ready at any moment to give up everything, even life itself, for the greater glory of Christ. For a worldly, weak, decadent church to make converts is but to bring forth after her own kind and extend her weakness and decadence a bit further out…
“So vitally important is spiritual quality that it is hardly too much to suggest that attempts to grow larger might well be suspended until we have become better.”
Could it be that we have overlooked a basic truth of the gospel, so simple that we forget that we are called to obey its word? The truth that we are to love one another, encourage one another, cheer one another on into purity and holiness?
It seems that so often we are intent on bringing others to Christ that once they have come, we leave them standing at the starting line, having not a clue as to how to run the race they just entered. Or we encourage them on but we forget the aspect of purity and holiness we told them about. We forget to inform them that they must change from the old, worn out and ‘holey’-of-another-sort loafers they wear and must now wear shoes that will allow them to run with endurance the new race that has been set before them. We forget that we may need to actually tighten our laces as well and begin running beside of them on those first quests, teaching them new routes, obstacles that lay ahead and how best to avoid them. We forget they haven’t run this path before.
How easy it can be to forget what it felt like to be new in Christ— to be full of joy and hunger and if we were truly blessed, to have an earthly coach available to help and guide us in those first days, months, years. Some new Christians come to Christ, not knowing anyone who will help them through the first days and often not even knowing they need someone to help them through those first laps of their race. Without a teammate, they can easily end up walking from the starting line, straight back into the stands, to once again become a spectator. There was no one to pull the trigger at the start of the race, no one to shout to them words of encouragement as they begun the race set before them. And all too often, there is no one to run alongside and to cheer them on when their life mimics worship or to encourage them when they stumble or help them up when they fall.they have picked themselves up from the rut they have fallen. Because of this, they can easily fall back into their old ways, not knowing that they are to continually grow in purity and holiness. They don’t know, because they may have never been taught that the new race, the purity and holiness is a life-long process.
Are we intent on bringing others to Christ? We well should be for that is the message of the gospel but let’s not forget that once someone has become a believer, it is our responsibility to teach them to grow, to often run alongside of them, and be cheering them on in their race. Jesus taught us this truth with his own disciples, teaching them 24-7 for over three years. He produced seed that in turn, produced an abundant harvest.
Iron sharpens iron—it’s an old proverb with great truth. Will we be a generation that produces seeds of growing Christians or seeds that fall away?
Let us pray, “Lord, I don’t hear much today of the ‘greater importance that we have better Christians than that we have more of them.’ Help us in our seeker-orientation not to water down the message and make the teaching so shallow that we don’t challenge our people to holy