Most of you know, I am sure, that as Chtistians, we begin our Christian walk at our baptism. We pour water over – or we fully immerse a person in water – and up out of that water arises a new creation – a Christian. But the transformation into a fully devoted disciple of Jesus Christ has only just begun. When it comes to making a disciple of Jesus Christ – well – it’s just something that takes some time. And I like to say that it’s a process – a process that takes a life-time.
So, becoming a disciple is a process. It’s a marathon not a sprint. Something we grow into. And sometimes it feels like – you know – it feels like –three steps forward and two steps backwards, doesn’t it! Fits and starts. Trials and temptations. Sometimes there’s suffering or the sake of Christ – so – yeah, sometimes it hurts. And we question – this God stuff – this church stuff. And that’s a good thing! Let me tell you – I’ve grown the most in my own discipleship when I’ve asked those tough, tough questions of what this is all about. Questions like, “God, are you real?” “Did Jesus really rise from the dead?” “Is there life after death?” So, asking questions is good. In fact, it’s absolutely necessary. And then there are times of prayer. And meditating. And digging deeper.
Well – that’s how growth as a disciple occurs. That’s how disciples are made. Disciples aren’t born. They are made. It is something that – well like these winter Olympic athletes – it’s something we train for. AND – it is a team effort.
Jesus tells us today that as his followers – as his disciples – we are to take up our cross and follow him. He says we are to deny ourselves in order to follow him. And that can be painful. Letting go of the past – letting go of those things that would keep us from becoming and being the kinds of disciples Jesus is calling us to. Sometimes it might even feel like God is taking a hammer and chisel to us.
SO let me invite you to watch this video. I showed it some six years ago. And after I had shown it, someone came out of church and said, “You need to show that again sometime.” SO – I’m showing it again. It’s called “God’s Chisel: Remastered.” (watch at: skitguys.com/videos/item/gods-chisel-remastered).
Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
So when you look into the mirror what do you see? Do you see Jesus living in you – the Christlikeness that we’re talking about all the time around here? Are you more concerned with your image – or character? Character still counts, doesn’t it!
Listen! YOU are God’s workmanship – God’s masterpiece. You see – God loves you just the way you are, but he loves you too much to let you stay there. He loves you too much to let you stay that way. Just remember that God is working on you. God is at work in you and me to make us the kind of people He wants us to be. In order that we might do the things He is calling us to do.
So just remember –when you’re struggling with this whole discipleship thing – that it takes time. The process of being – of becoming a disciple – takes time. And practice. Just remember we are all in this together.
And together, we encourage each other to practice the marks of discipleship. And you already know what those mark are, right? The marks of a disciple – pray daily – read the Bible every day –worship weekly (that’s spelled w-e-e-k-l-y not w-e-a-k-l-y) – develop Christian friendships – give – and serve. These are the tools God uses to chip away at the old self – the old self that rebels against God. But as He chips away – even those areas of our lives that we would just as soon He leave alone – as God chips away – in the place of the old arises a new self – what the Bible calls a new creation.
It takes time, but hey! God doesn’t make junk. You’re a masterpiece! You are God’s original masterpiece.
Listen. We’re going to do this together. I want you to say your name, and then say “is God’s original masterpiece.” Ready? Say your name – “is God’s original masterpiece!” Yes, you are! Yes. Even you! Amen