Adding On

In his sermon, "You Don't Have to Be Good to Come to Christ," John Claypool tells about a woman from an Italian village who once found herself face to face with a monk from the monastery perched on the hill overlooking the village.  It was rare to see any of the monastery's residents outside of its confines, and the woman wanted to make the most of a rare opportunity. "Father," she said, "I've always wanted to ask somebody what you men of God do up there on the top of the mountain that looks to me to be so close to heaven. I've always wondered about the life of holiness that you lead up there." To which the monk responds, "What do we men of God do up there on the holy mountain? I'll tell you, my dear. We fall down; we get up. We fall down; we get up. We fall down; we get up." Claypool continues: "That is the way of all Christian growth. It doesn't happen all at once. But it does happen when we glimpse what we have not yet achieved, and we want that so badly that we honestly say, "Here's where I am. I'm not going to try to get myself together and then ask God to move me to the goal." I love the old monk's response because it brings to light two great truths that Christians do well to acknowledge.  The first is that "we fall down."  Followers of Christ have lost too much credibility throughout the ages because of their unwillingness to own up to this basic truth.  We must no longer act as though we don't fall down.  We must no longer act as if the Christian walk is a steady, unerring ascent toward great holiness.  I have encountered my share of setbacks.  I will encounter more. But the other great truth must also be honored.  It is just as important.  We must also remember that to be a Christian means that "we get back up."  While the Christian life is not an unhindered march toward perfection, it is still a march in that direction.  We are not expected to be perfect in our progress, but we will seek to progress. Falling down is not a reason for despair, because we know that God grants us the chance, (he ALWAYS grants us the chance) to pick ourselves up again.  In fact he doesn't just invite us to get back up every time, it's his arms that are pulling us to our feet.  "His mercies never come to an end.  They are new every morning." This morning we will see what Peter has to say to his audience about Christian growth.  I hope you'll hear God calling to you to keep moving toward him today.