Recently, at the strong suggestion of my doctor, I’ve made some dietary changes. When asked about my diet, I generally respond, “Well, it’s essentially a vegan diet.” If you asked my doctor, she would tell you that I am supposed to be “fully vegan.”
The reason I say “essentially vegan” is because, well, I really like sushi! Also, sometimes a guy just needs real cheese on his pizza. And, vegetables tend to taste better when they are dripping with real butter! In other words, I “cheat” on my diet.
However, every time I cheat on my diet, I suffer the consequences. Not only do I feel remorse and guilt, I notice the physical impact too. It’s almost like my doctor knows what she is talking about! I know that if I am to reap the full benefits of my diet, I need to be more than “essentially vegan.” I need to be fully vegan.
Thinking about my diet made me think about my faith too. You know, there are many times my words and actions might indicate that I’m “essentially Christian” rather than “fully Christian”. While I fully believe in my heart and confess with my heart that Jesus Christ is Lord, I don’t always fully represent that inward belief in my outward actions.
I understand what Paul wrote in Romans 7:15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
I don’t want to gossip, but I do. I don’t want to lack compassion for others, but I do. I don’t want to be selfish, but sometimes I am. I don’t want to drink bad coffee, but sometimes, well, I do!
How many of us are willing to admit that we are “essentially Christian”? We regularly attend church. We occasionally read the Bible. We go to Sunday school or attend a growth group. We say our mealtime and bedtime prayers. And yet, we still struggle to be “fully Christian.” We fail, at times, to love God, love our neighbor, and love even our enemies. We fail to care for the least, the last, and the lost among us. The desire is there, but we struggle to take action.
The Good News is this: God knows that we will fall short. God gave Jesus to live, die, and live again that we might have life! God knows that we will more often be “essentially Christian” than “fully Christian”. God promises to forgive when we repent and seek forgiveness. And, God promises to be with us as we “strive toward perfection.”
I don’t know about you, but I deeply desire to move from being “essentially Christian” to “fully Christian.”