My daughter was playing tennis with friends. I watched as she and another player volleyed. Each was paired with a teammate who had rarely played before. In addition to missing balls, these beginners would make the usual mistakes, hitting at the wrong angle or with too much or too little force. Like many sports, tennis is all about controlling the ball, a skill that increases with practice.
The Christian life is like that sometimes. Many of us come to Christ unpracticed in the virtues that characterize the Lord we love. Then God calls us into the game, asking us to abide by the rules he put into play when he created the universe. At first our attempts to be like Jesus may feel awkward and difficult. Perhaps we’ve developed habits like cursing or feeling sorry for ourselves or telling half-truths or gossiping or giving in to feelings of rage and anger. Sometimes we stumble. But if we pick ourselves up and keep going, God’s Spirit will work in us to unwind these problem behaviors and give us the grace to change. The more we practice the virtues, the more virtuous our lives may become.
As with the beginners in my daughter’s foursome, it can help to be friends with those who are more experienced than we are. Mature Christians can become our mentors, encouraging and showing us what a life of virtue looks like. Ultimately, becoming more like Christ means enjoying more of the shalom he offers—healing, wholeness, and the blessing of good relationships. All are part of the peace he promises. More