My baby girl turned five years old yesterday.
As crazy as that sentence is to write (where is the time going?!), it doesn’t even begin to compare with the gravity of January 25, 2010 at 3:58pm when I met Tristin Laine face to face for the very first time. In a single moment (that was immediately preceded, as my wife would point it, by many, many, many moments that led to it), my life was radically altered forever.
With the arrival of that little girl, I came into a brand new position which I had never held before- that of father. Whoa…talk about a weighty realization. Literally entrusted by God with the life of another, I now held in my arms a gift and a responsibility like nothing I had ever known before. At that moment, there was no looking back, no turning away; life as I had known it was over, and a new reality was ever before me. Such is the power of a positional change.
Fast forward five years (plus one day now, if we’re being technical), and guess what? My position as a father hasn’t changed- in fact, it has actually expanded threefold with the subsequent additions of our two boys, Jude and Asa. But in five years, my practice of fatherhood has been transformed dramatically.
I’ve learned, grown, and matured in more ways than I can count, and though I certainly don’t get this thing right anywhere close to all the time, I’ve come a long way since those anxious first days in January 2010. I still remember crying tears of both fear and joy as we drove home from the hospital with our little gift from God, and while my kids still occasionally bring me to tears (for multiple reasons!), I am learning a thing or two along the way.
In this way, fatherhood is both a completed work- after all, I became one in a moment- and at the same a continuing work in which I develop just a little bit more with every passing day. To put it more succinctly, it is both a position I hold and a practice I practice- and will be until the day I pass from this life into the next.
This is a powerful picture of what it means to follow Jesus- to be, as we’re discovering as we walk through Paul’s letter to the Colossians as a church, a Christian. To bear the name Christian is to both stand in a secure position “in Christ” and practice the outworking of that position on an everyday basis. The positional reality is made possible through Christ’s completed work of living perfectly, dying sacrificially, and rising victoriously, while the practical reality is experienced through Christ’s continuing work of transforming us daily to look more and more like Him.
This dual truths standing side by side in Scripture are undeniably powerful and immensely encouraging. This is true for two primary reasons- one, that our position in Christ is eternally secure in a completed historical reality, and two, that Christ really can and will bring about practical transformation as we walk with Him daily in that position. This is the “Good News” of the Gospel- that we have no need to earn our position before God, and that our practice is not in vain!
As a father, January 25, 2010 was the day my life changed forever, and at the same time the day my life started changing. Becoming a father wasn’t an end, but a beginning, but the process of change that has happened since that day- and will continue on indefinitely- wasn’t possible apart from that initial change in position.
So it is as a Christian. To bear that name, we all must begin somewhere- and that “somewhere” is in trusting Jesus alone as our Savior and Lord, which results in a dramatic, and necessary, change of position. But recognize at the same time that change isn’t the end of the conversation; it’s just the beginning of a lifelong process that will culminate one day when you meet your Father in heaven face to face, and are finally perfected forever.
So then, how Christian are you? It is a question of both position and practice. Let’s allow God’s Word to us in Colossians instruct and inspire us to answer it well.