Becoming Fully Christian


John 8:33-47 NRSV

They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.”
They answered him, “Abraham is our father.”
Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did, but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are indeed doing what your father does.”
They said to him, “We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.”
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word. You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.
Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God.”

Becoming Fully Christian

We sit in church, pray, tithe, volunteer. The more we do, the more we feel like we’re following. Yet, do we feel a change, like we really are “from God”? 
In high school I accepted Christ, and became a Christian. I celebrated the Christian seasons, fasted, went to church… on the outside I was a Christian. However, in private I still cursed, listened to music that didn’t do my ears justice, partied occasionally. I would say I was the average high school teen… only “with a faith”. I felt comfortable doing this, but still something felt out of balance.  After a while, that comfort turned into guilt. Like the disciples I felt like I had been doing right (following the law like Abraham and having faith in God), but I found out the hard way that my real father was Sin. Like the scripture I claimed my Father God, but I still followed my old father from the beginning - “my father- the Devil” (verse 43).
How can we become “fully” Christian, rather than only “halfway” having faith? How do we move beyond clinging to lies of our lives (verse 44), being average people - only “with a faith”? We do these great things for others and God, but we still claim the things of the past, just as the disciples claimed Abraham as their father, when their Father was talking right to them. 
During Lent we give up “things” in order to gain truth and wisdom; what do we need to give up that still corrupts us to the world (verse 37)? Is forty days enough? What if we gave something up for a lifetime to hear from God - music, a game, habits, relationships…our old ways - to believe Him! (verse 46-47). 


Father, only you are our father, no one else. Help us to believe you by trusting in your truth alone. Amen.
Ethan Carnes serves as the Pastoral Assistant for Abingdon UMC