What Have You Seen in Your Christian Life?

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I am a first-generation Christian. I was not born into the church. Christianity was not in my bloodline. It was all new to me and my family. I have heard thousands of sermons from hundreds of different pastors, missionaries, and evangelists. I have met tens of thousands of Christians. I have attended churches in dozens of states in America and about a dozen different foreign countries. I have been saved for more than 32 years. I have been the visitor, the new member, the young punk, the zealous novice, the follower, the leader, the assistant pastor, and now the lead pastor in the church.

Do you know what I have seen?

I have seen pastors take Scripture and twist and grossly manipulate It for their own purposes. I have also seen pastors lovingly and carefully unpack life-changing eternal truths from the unsearchable riches of God’s Word for the betterment of the body of Christ.

I have seen church members lie, backstab, and mistreat brothers in Christ. I have also seen church members sacrifice, and love, and give the shirt off their back to help someone who could do nothing for them.
I have met grumps, and I have met Christians whose entire being radiated with the joy of the Lord.

I have witnessed unimaginable hypocrisy. I have also watched unmatched sincerity.

I have seen well-known pastors and Christian leaders sadly disqualify themselves from the ministry through duplicity and criminal sinfulness. I have also known multitudes of well-known and lesser-known pastors remain faithful to their God, His church, their wife, and their family until God called them home by way of the grave.

I have seen shameful coverups of wickedness. I have also seen tearful, transparent, biblical confrontations of sin.
I have seen men and women who bear the name of Christ get lifted up in life-shattering pride. I have also met some of the most humble, godly, gracious people on the face of the planet.

I have seen prominent church members cause division and discord over stupid and selfish trivial matters. I have also seen saints embody biblical love that covers a “multitude of sins” as Christlike forgiveness was extended when vengeful spite would have been justified.

I have learned a lot of what not to do by watching other Christians’ unbiblical behaviors. I have learned even more of what to do by watching other Christians’ God-honoring lives.

I have seen men who wrote books on how to lead a Christian family completely destroy their families. But, I have seen far more godly parents who quietly passed their faith on to their children and their children’s children.

I have been hurt deeply during my time in church. I have been helped even more deeply during my time in church. Unfortunately, I have hurt others deeply during my time in church.

I have seen man fail, but I have never seen God fail.

Here is what I have learned: You will find what you are looking for…man will fail us. Jesus never does. He is the Alpha and Omega—the Author and Finisher of our faith. Keep your eyes on Him. He is worthy! Serving in His church is wonderful! His Word is amazing! His calling is the greatest privilege you can imagine! His people will be some of the sweetest treasures you will be blessed by as you travel this earthly sod!

My life is eternally different because of a pastor and a church who was willing to reach out to a single mom and her nine-year-old only child and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with us on that special outreach day. My eternal destiny changed when that man, who would become my father-in-law, stood up on that first Sunday to preach the gospel of Christ from John 3. My family history is forever transformed because of Sunday school teachers, youth workers, Bible college professors, and countless godly church members, many of whom are still joyfully serving God to this day.

In 32 years as a Christian, I guess you could say I have seen it all—or at least most of it.
The question is not “What have you seen?” The question is “Who will you focus on?” Focusing on one will lead to discouragement, disillusionment, and bitterness. Focusing on the other will lead to joy, thanksgiving, and an overwhelming feeling of how undeserving we are to be partakers of His love, mercy, and grace. Sin is real. God’s grace is greater!

Whatever you are looking for—You will find it. Look to Jesus. Look for the good in people. Look for the ones you can help. Apologize to the ones you have hurt. Forgive the ones who have hurt you. Then, and only, then, will you be able to echo the words of the Apostle Paul in Acts 20:”

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”