TRUE CHRISTIANITY TURNS THE POSSIBLE INTO THE ACTUAL
I hope the title I’ve given to this “Pastor’s Pen” caught your attention!
Those words certainly caught my attention the first time I heard them. I was driving home from a
retreat listening to Dr. Larry Crabb read the introduction to an audio edition of his book, 66 Love
Letters: A Conversation with God that Invites You Into His Story. I had to pull over and write them
down! They’ve been staring at me from the window sill over my desk ever since.
“True Christianity turns the possible into the actual.” I wasn’t sure about all the implications of what Dr. Crabb had
just said, but as soon as the words came out of his mouth, I knew he was telling the truth. It wasn’t just his
opinion. He wasn’t saying something that might be true for some people but not for others. He was stating THE
truth; a truth that corresponds with the lived experience of millions of people who have put their trust in Jesus
Christ, including me. I knew that Dr. Crabb was telling the truth because his statement was an
abbreviated version of my own testimony: Trusting Jesus has changed me, is continuing to change me, and will
one day make my life look like Jesus’ life.
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already made perfect,” I hasten, with Paul, to add, “but I press on to
make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own” (Phil 3:10).
“I press on.” My purpose in writing today is to be honest with you about how painfully clear it is to me that “I
have not already obtained” this Christ-likeness! I am in Christ, so I know that the Holy Spirit is actively working in
me. I am in Christ, so I know that God will, in fact, in His time, and by His grace, “bring to completion” the work He
has begun in me “at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6). But I have also come to realize that in order to “press on,”
I cannot avoid being honest with myself, God, and you about the fact that God is still working to “turn the
possible into the actual” in my life. He can and will do it, but He won’t do it without my honest, willing cooperation.
Working through Paul’s letter to the Philippians with all of you over the last few weeks has been shining a lot of
light into my life. Sometimes it’s been so bright that it hurts my eyes. Listening to Paul exhort the Philippians has
made me feel like I’m on a roller coaster. One minute I’m looking at Jesus and wondering how I could possibly not
walk by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit. The encouragement of being united with Christ, being strengthened
by His love, knowing the fellowship of the Spirit—YES, I am alive in Christ by grace through faith! Secure in my
heavenly Father’s love! United to God and my sisters and brothers in Christ!
But the next minute, God seems a zillion miles away. I feel—and act as if—I’m all alone. Nobody loves me, and if
anything is going to happen, it’s up to me, myself, and I to make it so. (Of course, Old Stink Breath loves
this! Sometimes I can almost hear him cackling at me as I slosh around in the cesspool of my self-pity, self-
seeking, and self-reliance.)
It’s very embarrassing to tell you this. I’d much rather have you think I’m “Super Saint Dave.” But the “Dave” who
would rather have you think well of him than know the truth about his weakness and continuing need for Jesus’
grace and mercy isn’t the “real” Dave. It’s phony Dave. Hypocrite Dave. And because the “real Dave” believes
that true Christianity turns the possible into the actual, he’s taking the risk of telling you (and God) the truth and
trusting Jesus to lead him out of the places he’s been stuck and into new territory that he’s heard about but hasn’t
seen with his own eyes yet. The “real Dave” is BOTH “seated with Christ in heavenly places”…AND right here on
earth, “pressing on” by faith, relying on the Holy Spirit to do in him what he can’t do by himself: take up his cross
daily and follow Jesus into “becoming like Him in His death” so that he can also “know Him and the power of His
resurrection” (Phil 3:10).
My spiritual director told me recently, “Jesus meets us where we really are. Not where we pretend to be, or where
we think we should be.”
He wants to meet each of where we really are, and continue to lead us to where only He can take us.
He will, if we let Him.