Why do I need so much encouragement to become the Christian I aspire to be?
This question plagues me often. It seems like I can never do enough to keep myself on track with Bible study, prayer, Christian alms-giving and service; I’m easily distracted from my lofty goals by the minutiae of everyday life. Then, when I read a particularly inspiring book about faith or hear the story of someone’s amazingly committed and fruitful discipleship, I feel even more of a failure as a Christian! Why can’t I just ‘get’ there?
Maybe, as I’ve recently grown to appreciate, my short-comings as a Christian aren’t so much a failure, as a thorn to remind me that ‘Christian’ isn’t the name of an accomplishment. It’s the name of the Way to God. That means it’s a day-in, day-out, walk; a continual appraisal and revision of priorities; an ongoing developmental journey deeper into the reality of what it means to follow Jesus Christ in the world today. And perhaps most notably, it’s not a Way that’s intended to be walked alone. Christ gives us companions to share the journey, and one of the most important duties of companions is to offer encouragement. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing,” reads 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
Did you catch the second part of that verse? We’re SUPPOSED to be encouraging each other, which means that Christ knew that his people would often fall short and feel inadequate to walking the Christian journey. After reading that, I feel better already! From now on, I’m happily taking all the encouragement I can get, and I’m praising God for giving me books to read, companions for sharing, audios for listening, videos to watch, and stories to hear. Needing Christian encouragement isn’t a failing – it’s a gift!