“Self-Improvement That Lasts Forever”
Rev. Mike Gillen, Bowling Green First, Eolia, and Oak Grove UMC
One of the most impressive things I witness has to do with people reclaiming their lives. Whether it’s someone working to get into better shape or eating better to improve their health or recommitting themselves to a relationship they value, I’m always impressed with stories of life improvement.
Christian faith aims to inspire and increase the love people have for God and others. It also intends to improve the way people live today by emphasizing that Christ’s way is an eternal life that begins in this world.
I’ve never met someone who tries to make Christ’s way of life their own who doesn’t see self-improvement. Christ inspires people to make decisions and act in ways that God would approve.
Christ’s way also brings healing. Sometimes the healing is spiritual. Sometimes Christ heals the body and mind.
There’s a story in the Bible about Jesus and a blind man named Bartimaeus. You can read it for yourself in Mark 10:46-52. Hearing that Jesus is walking by him, Bartimaeus calls out for Jesus to help him.
People try to keep Bartimaeus quiet but he keeps on asking Jesus for help. Calling him over, Jesus asks the blind man what he wants. “Let me see again,” Bartimaeus answers.
Jesus says to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” And Bartimaeus regains his sight.
The story of Jesus and Bartimaeus offers some clues about Christian faith and the self-improvement that God wants to do in us. What did the blind man do that led to his healing?
First, Bartimaeus realizes Jesus is near. For us to find spiritual help it’s important to recognize God is always near us.
Second, the blind man calls for help. Bartimaeus sought God’s mercy, understanding he needed something that Jesus could offer him. The blind man wants to change, he wants to be healed. In the same way, we have to want to be healed in order to let God’s grace do its best work.
Third, Bartimaeus doesn’t let anything keep him from Jesus. He doesn’t give up when people try to keep him quiet. He keeps after Jesus hoping to make his life better. The key to following Jesus is to keep after His way no matter what obstructs us.
Fourth, Bartimaeus gets up and rushes to Jesus’ side when he is called. He takes part in his healing. There are times when we are called by God to get up and do something to improve our lives. Christian faith calls for action. It’s an active faith.
And fifth, Bartimaeus can tell Jesus what he wants. He’s a partner in the work Jesus is going to do. We’re created with a mind. We have dreams. And we make mistakes. Jesus is asking us what we want, how we want to be improved.
The Bible teaches that Christian faith is meant to make a difference in the real lives of real people. Even more important, God is actively involved in our world and wants us to let Jesus into our lives.
How can Jesus help you reclaim the life you were born to live? Look for Him in your life this week. Ask for God’s help. Don’t let anything keep you from getting closer to Jesus. Then partner with Jesus in the work He is doing in you and see how your life can improve.