I think the older some people grow in Christ, the more they lose ability at times to connect with the babies in Christ. This is something I strive hard to guard against in my own experience. My daddy was a Pentecostal Apostolic preacher. I was born and raised in a Pentecostal Apostolic Church. I received the Holy Ghost in June 2008. And to be honest, I never "left" the Church. I wasn't that kid who struggled against worldly pull. I didn't agree with everything, but I liked church. I had maybe a one-month hiatus from church, trying to be rebellious, and in that interim I was involved in a pretty big car accident that I walked away from. I stood on the side of the road like, "Okay, God. I get it." I never looked back since.
I've had and still have phenomenal spiritual mentors. NONE of them were focused on my outward appearance. None of them. But they put the Word so deep in my heart that over the years, through the process of time and obedience, I changed. I watched their examples. I got rid of stuff. I asked questions. I did things differently. I stopped listening to certain music and conversations. I stopped going certain places. I disconnected from distraction. I fell head over heels in love with Jesus Christ, and I feel like I love Him a little bit more each day. He's still my first love. He wooed me and still does!
I listen to a lot, see a lot, hear a lot--and I don't quite understand people who put so much emphasis on people's appearance first rather than on teaching them how to fall in love with a beautiful Savior. Jesus LOVES us so much, and sometimes it is hard for humans to grasp this wild concept. To understand it! Because we equate it with fickle human love. With judgemental friends. With disappointing relatives. With bitter relationships. With improper presentations of love when His love is beyond all of that. It is agape love, eternal, passionate, and it breaks barriers of darkness to set us free from sin and shame. That's where it starts. With love, with repentance, and then knowing God will complete the good work He starts in people IF we teach them how to keep submitting to Him (Philippians 1:6). Teach them to love Him and receive His love daily. To pray always. Fall in love with reading His Word. Fall in love with fellowshipping with good saints. Fall in love with praise and worship.
Some people know my background and experiences, and I often hear people give praise. There's admiration. It's okay. But inside I think, "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief." I know some people don't consider me chief. But I think the Apostle Paul offered an eloquent parallel of how we should see ourselves at times. Remember that it took our innocent Savior to atone for the mess we made of our lives and this world. We are all chief sinners. Some have found salvation by receiving the Holy Ghost and baptism, and some still need it. Some are still growing. I didn't grow overnight, and I'm still growing. I remain a lifetime student of the Word.
If our Gospel is hid, it is hid to those who are lost (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). We must not allow our desperation to see people change, or our urgency, or our experiences to become a barrier to others developing spiritually. Our desire must be tempered with discernment, timing, grace, and love.
Another humbling Scripture of mine is Romans 12:3. Basically, it says to not think of yourself more highly than you ought.
I'm not better than you because of my experiences or background in the Faith. I do feel a heavy burden because of it. I know to whom much is given much is required (Luke 12:48). In fact, BECAUSE of my experience, I need to exercise the greatest of wisdom and spiritual acuity in order to reach the lost. To share this beautiful Gospel. To build up my brothers and sisters in the Faith. To present the Word so others too can experience the power of God. I MUST trust the Holy Ghost enough to do the work, just like my mentors trusted Him to work on me. And what He works on, He makes it good (Genesis 1).
May we never underestimate or undermine the transformative power of the Word of God and the Holy Ghost. May our experiences serve as a reminder of how much God sufferers long with us. For this, I am eternally grateful. I pray as we age in Christ Jesus, we always remember where we started and how much it took to get us here.