This life therefore is not righteousness but growth in righteousness; not health but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise.  We are not what we shall be but we are growing toward it; the process is not yet finished but it is going on; this is not the end but it is the road.  All does not gleam in glory but all is being purified.   ~Martin Luther 

My friends in Alcoholic Anonymous say without apology something to the following effect: We are a program of spiritual progress—not spiritual perfection.

But I want to be perfect today.  

Some time ago I was enjoying the community within the cozy confines of men that I trusted and the topics we’d sit around and discuss were of an extremely personal nature.  Hence, the group was all about authenticity and although it was a so-called Christian group of men—it was a place where you could feel safe enough to unpack your dirty laundry and be real. 

If you ask me—the church should be a body of folks who use a little more of that kind of approach and a little less of the opposite sort in which we pretend to be someone we are not like we do at work—with our relatives—at the baseball diamond—and with the neighbors in our subdivision.  As a matter of fact that was one of the main ideas behind our meeting in the first place—taking off our masks we are so prone to put on in the morning before we scurry out the door.  The group wasn’t anything like the Promise Keepers group I was introduced to some 10 years earlier—not a knock on them so much—but the whole lot of us in our new society of men had found out in our own journeys that we collectively and individually were all the more likely to play promise-breakers than promise-keepers if we were at all honest about ourselves.  And now our forum was giving us permission (if you will) to be just that, honest—actually encouraging us to do so.  We could even cuss or talk about sex and not be asked to leave.  Imagine that—where I came from that was an all-out license to doubt someones very salvation.   

Truth be told we were just a bunch of guys in need of grace and without any help from one another we were not getting all that far in our personal walks of faith by ourselves. 

We Jesus-followers are all in process—every last one of us—and it does us some good to be reminded about this truth from time to time.

 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  (2 Corinthians 5:2-4, ESV)

Being further clothed—that’s about now.  So much of the time we mistakenly make reference to the Cross in terms of futuristic or in the past tense with very little if any reference to the here and now—today.  By failing to name our sins and admit our need for forgiveness we be-little our dependence upon the finished work Jesus did on the Cross that made grace possible in the first place.   Jesus suffered and died so we could live today in the power of that reality verses having to wait until tomorrow.  There is hope for me to love my enemy—to care for the unlovely—and be sober—right now.  As I take a serious and deliberate inventory of my life of late I have to be truthful with myself—that is if I want the freedom that is mine to be active and appropriated.   It’s embarrassing when I really get honest about how little I believe God when it comes to my private life—as if it’s my right to have one.  Do I trust him enough to sweep out and replace my torn apart and broken up furniture in the rooms of my life?  Will I continue to hold the keys to those rooms in the death-grip of my grimy little fist or will I turn them over to Jesus?

Our growth in righteousness is only stunted when we ignore our plight. 

May the prayer of our hearts be to have some more of the not yet in the here and now by the grace of God—that we would be further clothed—and may we understand that while we have not arrived, we are in the process of getting there.