We are works in progress. Jesus didn’t come for those who don’t need help.
One of the arguments I’ve heard against Christianity is, “If Christianity is true, then how come so many people who aren’t Christians are nicer than those who are?” I can answer that question because I happen to be one of those people who struggles with character flaws. You see, I tend to be a cynic. It’s easy for me to slip into the habit of seeing the negative and expecting the worst from people. It’s easy for me to be sarcastic and to make caustic comments. Occasionally someone has to take me to task for how I express myself. Then, there’s my temper. At times, even after almost 50 years of being in Christ, I still have to watch it. Bitterness has been another huge struggle for me. It’s all too easy to dwell on the wrongs and hurts which others have inflicted.
Yes, it would probably be pretty easy for someone to criticize me for not being as nice a person as I ought to be. But, as C.S. Lewis points out in his book, Mere Christianity, the real question is not how I compare with someone outside of Christ, but what I would be without Christ. Someone in the world may be a lot nicer than me because he was born with a nice disposition and has not had to struggle to overcome my particular character flaws. The measure is not what I am, but how much progress I have made and the direction I’m going. Lewis points out that the nice people might not even be able to recognize that they need to change. They might not realize that they need Christ just as much as those of us who have had to struggle with a nasty disposition. It’s those of us who know we aren’t what we should be who turn to Christ for help and healing. As Jesus, Himself said, “...It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17 NIV)
I still have a long ways to go, but the good news is I’m not what I used to be. There has been a lot of progress. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that, “...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control...” (NIV)
Because of what Jesus has done for me, His Spirit lives in me and I can see the changes He is making in my life. I can see the gradual increase in the Spirit’s fruit. Without Christ, if I were even still alive, I might very well be a crusty, curmudgeonly, misanthropic hermit living alone in the back of beyond with a rifle propped next to the cabin door.
Though it is sometimes a painful process, I thank Christ for transforming me. I thank him not only that he has made me different than what I was, but for the hope He gives that someday I will be perfect. I rejoice that someday, I will be like Christ.