Phil 3:12-14 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
Corn grows. Beans grow. Trees grow. Pigs grow. Calves grow. Puppies grow. It is no surprise that children grow, why should we be surprised that we all grow, for growth is part of life. There may come a time when we stop growing taller, but we continue to grow in knowledge and wisdom. But hopefully there is more, for just as graduation is not the end of learning, so also confirmation should not be the end of our learning and growing in faith, in love, in stewardship and in service.
Corn grows. Beans grow. Trees grow. Pigs grow. Calves grow. Puppies grow. If they donít grow, they die. There may be miniature varieties, but even they grow. The only thing I know that doesnít grow, at least in a normal sense is a bonsai tree, and the reason for that is they are carefully trimmed and pruned so that they only grow very very slowly, it stays small, because it receives much care to keep it healthy. Therefore people must continue to grow, for who will care for us so much to keep us in miniature? People grow so that they can meet the demands and requirements of life. And as people grow in all things, so also they must grow in their relationship with God.
The scriptures may say:Isa 53:6 "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." But it in no way encourages to grow in our wanderings, nor does it encourage us to continue in our own way, or in sin. Godís Word is clear, we may be wandering sheep, lost sheep, strayed sheep -- but the universal message is one that calls us to return, repent, and receive the grace of God that makes us a new creation. The implication of Godís gift of new life, is that we should value that new life and live that life as God has intended.
Oh, but Pastor, nobodyís perfect. It is true that no one is perfect, and at the same time it is also true that God has called us to be perfect, and the new life he has given us, is a life meant to be perfect. How do we know? Jesus told us, Jesus taught us, and in Jesus we see, how by the grace of God we can overcome sin, how by the power of God we can resist temptation, and how in the mercy of God we have been equipped to be able to do good works.
There used to be a time when the words -- nobodyís perfect -- would make me angry and disgusted, for I heard people asking for permission to stop trying, to give up, and thus to perish. I would hear those words, and say to myself, Satan has won another oneÖ for if they continue in this manner that is where they will surely end. But just as a swimmer cannot watch idly as someone drowns, so we cannot watch idly, for God is calling on us to rescue the perishing.
It is this call of God to rescue the perishing, or to use the older language, to make disciples of all people, that pushes onward in growth. For even if we were perfect , even if we had all we needed to overcome sin, and resist temptation, and live as the people of God. There are still more things we could grow in, which would make us more effective in reaching out, in lifting up, and in pointing people toward the cross of Christ and the way of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
And the one thing that moves us forward in growth, in faith and in love -- is Godís love for us, as we have come to know it in Jesus Christ. Seeing Jesus on the cross, paying the price for our sins, makes it very hard for us to continue in sin, for this love calls us to turn and return to God, and promises us forgiveness and life. And having received this for ourselves, we see also that Jesus died for all, and we want to reach out, offering them the hand of salvation, so we desire to bring them to Christ, and faith, and life.
Nobodyís perfect. But the answer is not to give up trying, but to grow up in the faith that God began in and through baptism. For God gives a perfect faith, and it remains perfect as we grow in receiving the grace pours out upon us daily and richly. And as we grow in faith, love and service, so God equips us to reach out to others, and to work with Him in the great harvest, harvest of souls. So now, when I hear someone saying, No oneís perfect, I hear someone saying, help me to grow, and we all know that faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, so wisely we turn to His Word.