ARE WE ALMOST THERE?

Most of us probably remember traveling by car with our family when we were children and asking our parents, “Are we almost there?” We were not only looking forward to getting to where we were going, but also were tired of riding, hungry, and needed to use the restroom. Our question was both an expression of anticipation as well as notification that we were getting tired.

I think a lot of us who have been Christians for some time periodically ask ourselves, “Am I almost there?” That question reminds us that living the Christian life is a journey in which we make progress and look forward to eventually arriving at our destination.

From time to time I am reminded that after all the years I have been traveling the journey of a Christian, I am not there yet—as a matter of fact, I am not even almost there. When I realize I have said or done something I should not have done or said I am reminded that I am not there yet, or even almost there. The same is true when I realize I have not done or said something that I should have said or done. I like to warn believers that the Christian life is a dynamic life in which no one can say in this life “I have arrived.”

There are a variety of texts in the New Testament that reinforce the premise that the Christian life is a journey of progress in which Christians become more and more the person God has called us to be. Two of my favorites are from the best known apostles Paul and Peter.

In Philippians 3:12-14 Paul reminds his readers that he has not arrived at his goal, but that he is pressing on. He tells these Christians (as well as us) that he is forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. He is pressing on toward the goal.

In II Peter 1:3-9 Peter reminds his readers that God has given us everything we need for a godly life. In verses 5-9 he challenges them (and us), “make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.”

These two passages give us a lot to think about as well as challenge and encourage us. The reality is that we are not there yet or even almost there, but hopefully we are continuing to make progress. One final thought: we are not loved, forgiven, or saved because of our progress. We make progress because we are saved, forgiven, and loved.

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Free Stock photos by Vecteezy

THE PILGRIM’S PROGRESS: A BOOK REPORT

I’m not exactly sure what grade I was in when I wrote my first book report, but I know it was in grade school. After that we wrote book reports in junior high as well as in high school. Although we did a lot of reading in college and graduate school, and sometimes we wrote about what we read, they were not called book reports.

Until a couple of weeks ago I had never read John Bunyan’s classic The Pilgrim’s Progress. Leading up to Easter this past year I received emails almost daily about Revelation Media’s movie of the story. I wanted to see it, but it was only shown on two days – Thursday and Saturday before Easter and I couldn’t go either day.

Interested because of all the promotions about the movie, I thought about getting the book and reading it. My interest was confirmed when I visited a bookstore in town that was going out of business and I found The Pilgrim’s Progress marked down 60%. I couldn’t pass up such a deal so I bought it (at such a discount I knew it had to be God’s will!); and I’m glad I did.

Here’s a short book review of The Pilgrim’s Progress.

The flap on the cover on my copy reports that “John Bunyan was a seventeenth-century Baptist preacher and writer. He became imprisoned for his Christian beliefs, and it was at that time he began work on The Pilgrim’s Progress.” He wrote the book in 1688 and it “is an allegory on the Christian life.”

The framework of the book is the account of a storyteller’s dream he had of a Christian’s journey to the Celestial City. Reflecting the time in which it was written, there are sentences that seem awkward that I needed to read a couple of times to get the meaning.

The storyteller’s report of his dream is filled with designations and titles that enhance the “allegory on the Christian life.” In addition to Christian, other characters include Evangelist, Obstinate, Pliable, Mr. Worldly Wiseman, Patience, Apollyon, Faithful, Talkative, Hopeful, Ignorance, and Little-faith. In addition to the Celestial City, other places are the Slough of Dispond [sic], Vanity Fair, Graceless, Honesty, Giant Despair, and Doubting Castle.

Readers familiar with the Bible will note lots of references and allusions to verses and passages in the Bible. But readers do not have to know the Bible to engage the story. The flap on my copy notes the book “is regarded by many as one of the most significant religious works ever written.”

If this report sparks your interest I hope you will get and read the book. I think you will not only enjoy it, but also be challenged and encouraged. I think Revelation Media’s film will be available in the future. Having read the book, I look forward to seeing the movie.

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