Not much about Facebook is appealing to me these days. Between the angry political rants and the pictures of my aunt’s cat and the 17 Ways to Have a Conversation With an Introvert (#11 Will Shock You!) posts, it’s hard to find a reason to open Mr. Zuckerberg’s social network.
And now, to make matters even worse, Facebook started reminding me of my past. Have you seen it? The new feature called On This Day tells you what you posted and who you became friends with on this day in year’s past. It’s actually kind of neat being reminded of these life events… until you see that picture of yourself and wonder what in the world you were thinking with that haircut, that outfit, and that expression on your face.
It’s even worse when it’s a written post. You look at ideologies from years ago, the things you found yourself passionate about in college, and shudder at your words. Did I really feel that strongly about Joe Biden in 2008?
I’ve been overwhelmed recently by the truth that we are all in process. I’m not same man I was in ‘06, when my wardrobe consisted of girl jeans, Chuck Taylors, and a nose ring. And even more than style, I’m not the same man spiritually that I was even a year ago.
2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us that as those who follow Jesus are “beholding the glory of the Lord,” we are being transformed into his image… one degree at a time. Notice that it doesn’t say that we behold the glory of the Lord, and then we’re transformed instantly into a perfect person who never sins and has their whole life together.
It says “one degree at a time.”
This idea, that we’re all in process, slowly becoming more like Jesus, is crucial to healthy Christian living. When we realize that we are in process (and that everyone else is, too), a few things can begin to happen:
We can stop acting like we’re perfect.
When we know that this whole becoming like Jesus thing happens one degree at a time, we are able to drop the act and admit our shortcomings. I used to think that Christians had to act perfect so that we’d look good to those who didn’t know Jesus, but the reality is this: we’re not that good. Not only are we not that good, but people also see right through the facade we create when we act like we have it all together. So acting like we don’t make mistakes is helpful to no one.
We can love others for who they are, not what they do.
When we know that this work of sanctification is a process, we’re able to see each other for what we really are: sinners who are saved by Jesus and are slowly becoming more like Jesus because of Jesus. I said the word Jesus a lot in that sentence, and it was on purpose. It’s all because of Jesus. Ephesians 2 reminds us that before Jesus, we were “dead in our trespasses,” and Isaiah 64 says that on our own, our best is like filthy rags. So we can find comfort in the fact that our brothers and sisters are defined by the work of Jesus alone, and not their best or worst behavior.
We can stop expecting a church experience to change us.
Back when I thought Christians should be perfect, I actually had it in my head that other Christians were perfect. I wasn’t certain how they’d gotten there (since I hadn’t attained this perfection myself), so when I heard words like “breakthrough” and “experience,” I figured that’s how it worked. So I went to every church gathering, camp, conference, Bible study, retreat, and worship night that I could. When seemingly nothing changed, I would lay in bed at night and wonder what in the world was wrong with me. Where was my breakthrough? But when we have 2 Corinthians 3:18 in view, we can see church gatherings for what they are: a degree.
So as I sit here and look at photos of myself from May 24, 2007, I think back on who I was and I see the growth that’s happened over the years. It didn’t happen in an instant, but in the every day. And to be honest, I’ll probably give up on Facebook before eight more years pass, but I hope that I’m looking back at today and seeing the process at work… one degree at a time.