We have just finished a wonderful week for Christians, and many churches had their highest attendance of the year this past Sunday as we celebrated Easter. As we have focused on our Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection there may have been many who were prompted to make some type of decision. Some determined to place their faith in Christ’s work on the cross to rescue them from their sin. Others made a fresh commitment to serve Him in a greater way. Still others had a renewed desire to know the Lord on a personal level.
All those decisions are important, and the Lord often brings people to a crisis type of decision. That being said, big decisions by themselves rarely result in changed lives. I have watched many people make some type of public or private commitment, and yet very quickly go back to “life as normal.” Sometimes they have a lingering sense of guilt, but that is soon suppressed as well. Within months or even weeks you would never know that they had committed themselves to the Lord.
I am certainly not opposed to people “deciding for Jesus.” The Bible speaks of the need to commit to turning around and heading a different direction with our lives. It uses the term repentance to describe that event. But as God works in people’s hearts there must be some patterns of life developed. It is in the small daily habits that Christians develop that most change occurs. The apostle Paul writing to a much younger men said: “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; (1 Timothy 4:7 ESV)” Focus with me for just a moment on that word “train.” An athlete doesn’t do well unless they undergo training, and soldiers must be trained if they are going to succeed in battle. So it is with the Christian – unless they train, they will not do well.
Training involves learning; in the Christian that means studying the Bible. We learn best from someone who has already been in training, so having a mentor can help greatly. We usually train better when we are with others, so for the Christian, church attendance is significant. Training must be consistent to be effective so daily Bible reading and prayer are patterns that make a huge difference. Training is never an end in itself – it is for the athlete to be in the game, the soldier to be in the battle, and for the Christian to live well sharing their faith with others in the world.
Don’t just decide to follow Christ, go into training with other Christians to experience lasting change.