Earlier this week, I had one of those conversations that challenged me. It came through someone I respect and admire. It wasn’t negative or undermining; in fact, it came as an encouragement that got me thinking about one or two things I need to adjust. Generally speaking (and it is a huge generalisation) I think that most of us are wary of being challenged. This can be for a number of reasons: maybe we’ve been hurt by a wrong motive; perhaps the challenge came as more of a criticism, or it came clothed in discouragement rather than encouragement.
If we’re going to grow in our walk, we all need God-given people in our lives who will lovingly challenge us. Challenge is biblical: the whole essence of the gospel is based on God’s great challenge to us. One that declares that we don’t have to live in separation from God; we can live in Christ and we can know for ourselves the liberation of his life, sacrifice and resurrection. If we don’t allow the gospel to challenge us, there is no appetite for change and we are likely to carry on in our own way.
The challenge of the gospel comes with a whole cluster of other challenges: how we live, think, view people, use our resources, etc. Jesus challenges every aspect of our lives. For me, this is seen clearly in the great declaration of John 3:3, when Jesus said to Nicodemus, a Pharisee who probably wasn’t used to being challenged, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’
Being renewed and urged to cast off the distractions that get in the way between us and our God-given destiny is an ongoing challenge for us all, but one that is definitely worth embracing!