The first Hobbit movie was subtitled, “An Unexpected Journey.” Have you ever had one of those? Last Sunday we mentioned a half-marathon race in China that, due to an error on the part of the organizers, actually ran 17 miles rather than 13.1 miles. That race was longer and harder than the participants signed up for.
Some people have told me that their Christian “journey” has led them to places they never expected, and that the Christian “race” has been longer and more difficult than they expected.
Jesus can never be accused of “bait and switch” or “false advertising” when it comes to the Christian life. He repeatedly said the journey would be harder than we ever imagined, that it calls for self-denial, love of enemies, and breakup of families. He said we would be hated and persecuted, and that some of us will be put to death simply because we love Jesus.
Why the confusion then about realistic expectations? Because he also indicated that the journey would be worth it, marked by the abundant life and overflowing joy. Here’s one of the many mysteries of the Christian faith: The Christian life is both harder and more joyful that we can ever imagine. The ever honest C.S. Lewis said this: “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”
Here is an informative passage about our Christian journey:
“For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10).
From this passage we see three things that mark the Christian path:
This passage speaks about being filled with the knowledge of God’s will, wisdom, and spiritual understanding. These are crucial values on our journey. The psalmist says to God, “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105). The path to spiritual growth is lit by the word of God. This means Bible reading, prayer, community worship where the word is read and proclaimed, and small groups are crucial to our walk with Jesus.
We don’t learn about God to become Bible trivia experts. The goal of learning is life change. We must become someone we have never before been. The journey ends with perfect Christlikeness. The way to become more like Jesus is in sharing “the fellowship of his suffering” (see Philippians 3:10). The path of discipleship is marked by becoming new people in the Lord. This is the “worthy walk” mentioned in the passage above.
Our passage speaks of “bearing fruit in every good work.” The spiritual journey with Jesus will inevitably result in doing the work of a disciple. This is doing good, shining with the light of Jesus, and making a difference in this word for the Lord. We were designed by God to produce spiritual fruit. He is the vine. We are the branches. Fruit is a sign a tree is maturing. In a believer’s life, fruit is a sign of spiritual growth.
At Crosswalk, we want to help you on your spiritual journey. It is a group project! Let’s help each other along the way.