Being an effective Christian in 2017

Here’s the challenge for 2017: will you grow as a Christian and be effective and fruitful?  

Your Christian growth will positively influence your relationship with God, your home life, your work life, your social life and your church life.

The problem is that this is what some Christians think: “God has saved me and given me all I need; so, I don’t have to make any real effort in anything.  I’ll live a mediocre Christian life and take the route of least resistance.”  The catchphrase, “Let go and let God”, epitomizes this way of thinking. 

2 Peter 1:5 says that is not a Christian attitude.  The Christian’s life is a life of “making every effort”.

Every effort

 For this very reason, make every effort… (2 Peter 1:5)

The Christian life should be a life of effort, a life of labour, a life of expending energy.

It says “for this reason”.  What is “this reason”?  Since Jesus has given us his power and promises (2 Peter 1:3-4), we should not sit back and do nothing, but rather make “every effort”.  

Every effort in what?

…to supplement your faith…. (2 Peter 1:5)

This does not mean we must add something extra to our faith in Jesus so that it becomes Jesus plus something, but rather that our faith is supplemented and accompanied by something.  By what?

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue (goodness, moral uprightness), and virtue with knowledge (get to know Jesus better), and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness (perseverance, trusting Jesus in the tough times), and steadfastness with godliness (living a life that pleases God), and godliness with brotherly affection (deep love and kindness for other Christians), and brotherly affection with love (a real love for God and love for other people in general).  (2 Peter 1:5-7)

What Peter is saying is that Christians are not simply to trust Jesus and fill their heads with the knowledge of Jesus; they must make every effort and work hard to live out that knowledge in their behaviour.

No auto growth

Jesus’ power and promises will enable Christians to be holy; and Christians must also make every effort to be holy.  In other words, Christian growth does not happen automatically.  

D.A. Carson wrote:

People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.

Fruitless

What happens if we don’t make every effort?

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so near-sighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. (2 Peter 1:8-9)

It’s possible to be an ineffective and unfruitful Christian.  It’s very possible to be a Christian slacker, who in your blindness, short-sightedness and forgetfulness, you no longer appreciate that Jesus forgave your past sins, nor do you appreciate your present rebelliousness.

2017

Do you need to make Bible Study and church more of a priority?

Do you need to make TV or gaming less of a priority?

Do you need to grow in brotherly (and sisterly) affection as you volunteer in a ministry at your church? 

Do you need to get some software to check your online surfing habits?

Maybe you need to work on not getting angry? 

Maybe you need to be more patient and self-controlled with your family?

Maybe you need perseverance through a tough time?

Will you make every effort?