We definitely live in a world of instant gratification. We expect our needs (and most of our wants) to be satisfied immediately. No more wanting for anything, including food choices.
The microwave oven sure helped us along that path, but now there are any number of strange vending machines that can instantly satisfy our food cravings. In Paris you can get a hot baguette out of a machine for about 25 cents (not sure how it is baked). In Germany, you can get fresh eggs out of a machine. In China, some crabs are sold “in a pinch-proof casing for about $3.20.” And my favorite, at 7-Eleven stores in Singapore you can get hot mashed potatoes for 80 cents.
In this age of “I-want-it-and-I-want-it-now,” I began to wonder about our spiritual sanctification. Wouldn’t it be grand if you and I could step up to a local vending machine, drop some quarters in and be instantly deemed holy?
You may remember that sanctification is that big theological term that refers to a rather complex process whereby a sinner is declared righteous before God. It has an instantaneous or judicial element (I Cor. 6:11 “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God”). From that perspective, it is entirely the work of God credited to my account.
But there is also a progressive element to sanctification. Peter instructs his readers, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever!” (II Peter 3:18)
Grow…learn…change…obey…become. All of these terms suggest that it is a process. It began with a declaration made on the merits of Christ’s work on the cross, continues on the merits of our obedience and ultimately is completed at His coming.
Unfortunately, there is no short cut. It is a daily thing. We listen to His instructions given in His word and confirmed by His Spirit; we submit to that prompting, we live out our lives under the shadow of His tutelage. No short cuts. Someone has appropriately described this journey as a long obedience in the same direction.
There is no pill to take, no paperwork to stamp, no immediate eradication. It takes hard work. We have to continually “put to death” our sinful impulses. We have to say no to ourselves and yes to God. It isn’t easy.
So this week, if we are tempted to think there is a vending machine that we can poke and out will pop our spiritual maturity, let’s all stop and think again. It’s a long obedience in the same direction for all God’s kids.
By His Grace and for His Glory,
Sherry L. Worel