Discipleship is the process of becoming like Christ. Do you remember the day when you made the decision to follow Christ? With that decision, you decided to stop trying to run things yourself. You made the decision to let Jesus be the leader of your life. Eventually, you decided not to just settle for being a “church attender.” You desired to become more like Christ, to develop Christ-like qualities and character. The problem is, we often have an unrealistic image of what that means, or at least, how long it takes. I have good news and not-so-good news for some of you. God loves you and desires you to become more like Him. The Bible says, “You have begun to live the new life, in which you are being made new and are becoming like the One who made you” (Colossians 3:10a NCV). That’s the good news. The not-so-good news… the journey will last your entire life.
We live in an age when everything has to be fast. It’s too easy to get fixated on speed. We want to be spiritually mature, and we want it overnight. Sometimes, we can even get a bit frustrated when it doesn’t happen like we thought. Have you ever suffered from the “quick fix” syndrome? Do you deal with the “I want a shortcut”? Do you struggle with the “on-the-spot solution”? We sometimes think a quick sermon, or a book, or a super experience will instantly resolve all problems and remove all temptation. It doesn’t work that way. God is more interested in strength and stability than speed.
It’s too easy to think it’s the next book, or the quick sermon, or the one-time super experience…but it’s the gradual development of spiritual habits. Spiritual habits…like reading the Bible, developing a daily quiet time, and learning to be more generous. Spiritual habits are important and they take time to develop. Remember that your character is the sum total of all your habits. For example, you can’t claim to be a kind if you are not doing regular acts of kindness. It will be impossible to become kind without actions behind it. When you habitually show kindness, you develop a character of kindness without thinking about it. You can’t claim to have integrity unless it is your habit to always be honest. A husband who is faithful to his wife most of the time is not faithful at all! Your habits define your character. Real maturity is never the result of a single experience, no matter how powerful or moving. Growth is gradual. The Bible says, “Our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him” (2 Corinthians 3:18b Msg).There is only one way to become more Christ-like, and that is to develop the habits of Christ. You must practice them—and that takes time! There are no instant habits. Paul urged Timothy, “Practice these things. Devote your life to them so that everyone can see your progress” (1 Timothy 4:15 GW).
We shall become mature people, reaching to the very height of Christ’s full stature.
(Ephesians 4:13 TEV)