On Monday, I spent the day with Chris Conrad, director of church planting for the Wesleyans. Chris is a great guy and I am enjoying spending more time mentoring denominational and network leaders. Chris and I meet once a quarter in our mentoring relationship. During one of our previous mentoring times we had a lot of excitement and I interrupted out time to shoot the CNN interview. Chris just encouraged me and prayed as we went over to the studio.
Most importantly, I consider Chris a friend. And, I have always been impressed with his encouragement and graciousness.
When I taught at Indiana Wesleyan last year, he was in my class. While I was there I flew back and forth for a day at the North American Mission Board. While on the plane, I wrote this short post and never published it. So, I thought I would now.
I learned a lot about sanctification when I was recently with the Wesleyans. We had some good-natured discussions about the topic and didn't always agree.
It was my time there that reminded me, and caused me to reflect upon a convicting reality; I am not as holy as I thought I would be by now. I am guessing that I will think that 30 years from now, but it is still convicting.
While there, I blew a tire and got to see sanctification in action - and not my own. My friend, Chris Conrad, Director of Church Planting for the Wesleyan Church, was also a student in my class. I called him for a recommendation on tire repair and instead he insisted on taking care of the problem. While I went to the NAMB State Summer Leadership Meeting. While I was gone he removed by blown tire, got a new one, reinstalled the new tire, then pushed the car out of its spot to jump the battery (note to self: don't leave the emergency flasher on). He spent ½ a day and a chunk of money and would not let me pay him.
This real-life example of the parable of the Good Samaritan had a huge impact on me by making me keenly aware that if I were in the same situation I would not have done what Chris did. Sure, I would have called AAA and even paid for the service, but not gone to all that trouble.
His example compelled me to stop and think. While my Wesleyan friends did not persuade me to their view of sanctification, all of this did leave me wondering: if sanctification is a central part of your theology, do you focus more on it? And, perhaps, I need more focus on my life. And, can a theological system downplay the importance of personal sanctification? (I think it can and does.)
The example of a godly man can have a tremendous influence. It takes truth that can be either abstract or overwhelming and present it in a way that is understandable and compelling. While I was with my Wesleyan friends we differed on some of the particulars of the doctrine of sanctification, but seeing the reality of it in another man's life was powerful. Cotton Mather said it this way,Examples do strangely charm us into imitation. When holiness is pressed upon us we are prone to think that it is a doctrine calculated for angels and spirits whose dwelling is not with flesh. But when we read the lives of them that excelled in holiness, though they were persons of like passions with ourselves, the conviction is wonderful and powerful.
Thanks, Chris, for reminding me that I need more sanctification-- and by showing me that through Christ-like service.
Chris is obviously a good guy. He's also loves the local church and has planted two himself; the first of which is now averaging 1200. He is a gifted teacher and I told him 4 times in our conversation that he really needs to be more active in local church leadership-- and he'd be a great teaching pastor. So, call him!
But, his example reminded me that I need to think more about service and caring in the moment. And, maybe, just maybe, we all need to spend more time thinking about and focusing on personal sanctification.