In this upwardly mobile society, we move about a lot. Sometimes out of necessity, sometimes for pleasure…and there’s times we find ourselves in places that are different, strange, and unlike what we’re accustomed to…and we feel uncomfortable…longing for our home. As Believers, we’re foreigners here on Earth…for our citizenship is in Heaven. (Phil. 3:20) It’s no wonder then that we feel conflicted, uneasy and awkward…we’re just visitors here!
When you receive Jesus into your heart and believe that He died for your sins, you are adopted into the family of God. As Romans 8:16-17 states, “You have received the Spirit of sonship.” Regardless of whether you had both parents, only one parent, or no parents at all when you were growing up…you have been adopted into God’s family…and in doing so, have been chosen and legally named as a joint heir with Jesus.
The act of water baptism is full of symbolism and meaning. For those watching, it’s a public declaration of the person’s inner decision. For the person being baptized, it’s a time of newness of soul and spirit. In Romans 6:4 it says, ” We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Therefore, within the action of water baptism, our old self dies, and our new self emerges out of the water.
We are to live in harmony with all. Not with just those we like…not with those who only believe as we do. No, we are to live in peaceful co-existence with everyone. Jesus came preaching the Gospel of Peace, not that of elitism, isolation, or hatred. It’s a tough road though to love your neighbor as yourself…for many around us are unlovable. That’s why the second part of this verse is so important. We may not be able to change the unlovable around us, but we can change ourselves and how we interact with them. Sanctification or holiness is the ongoing process of becoming more like Christ Jesus everyday…of looking at all people – even the unlovable- through His eyes.
You are still running your race. You are still fighting the good fight of faith. So forget about the mistakes you made yesterday and instead reach for the goal before you…and you will find it.
But grow in grace and knowledge…what does that exactly mean to you? Is your life a shining example of Christ’s love within? Do you exhibit the same virtues and excellence you have on Sunday at Church as in the Board Room on Monday? Does the holiness you strive for follow you everywhere, or just to certain places? Growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord is a process…hopefully, an ongoing, ever-growing process…so that when people look at you…they just see Jesus.