A couple weeks ago we held "Christian Life Week" at college. Which was rounded out by a day completely dedicated to prayer. The guest speaker (Dr. Steve Bateman) gave a weekly series of messages that I found to be extremely challenging, encouraging, and just full of blunt truth. Because, lets face it, the truth normally comes quite bluntly.
He used a series of formulas to explain the big picture behind the messages. They went something like this:
Competence + Character = Credibility
Competence + Character + Suffering = Great Credibility
Competence + Character + Suffering + Endurance = Enormous Credibility
In other words: these are the components necessary to an enormous credible Christian life. And everything that Christ embodied.
"Competence is necessary for the Christian life but not sufficient. You must also have character." In other words, we have no excuse to not know God's word. We have no excuse to not become proficient in defending the faith and all the history that goes along with it. BUT, knowledge without character is empty. Knowledge without action can not take us very far. We need to check our words. Our actions.
Secondly, Dr. Steve talked about suffering. How it's a part of the Christian life. They go hand in hand. Regardless, we still serve a sovereign, good, strong, and benevolent God. "Do you think you would pray more if you had less trouble?" Dr. Steve pointed out that we hardly ever see what God is doing when we are in the middle of it. This is so true of my life. But, I love what he said next: "God is not going to waste any of your past sin. He is going to redeem it." Praise God.
Lastly, the idea of endurance. Following Jesus is our number one priority. Following Jesus is permanent. It costs. We are running the race. And endurance is key. Dr. Steve said this, "Your generation will be called on to portray more courage than any other generation in the history of the U.S."
Think about that. Let it sink in. It's a powerful statement. What does that look like?
Can we portray the kind of courage it is going to take if we don't excel in our competence? If we don't let the Holy Spirit develop a character in us that portrays the fruits of the spirit? Can we portray courage when we shrink back from suffering? Can courage take root when we choose not to endure?
What does the young generation of believers look like, right now, in our country? What does it say about the cross? Does it give us enormous credibility?