I always felt like I had a pretty good grasp of what the word "salvation" meant for my life. I knew it was the Biblical term that said I was saved from all my sins because Jesus died for me on a cross. But for some reason, that’s where I usually stopped paying attention. I typically just chose to ignore most of the other words I frequently heard being talked about in church.
One of the words I decided to neglect was “sanctification,” which I’ve since found out means “the act or process of acquiring sanctity, of being made or becoming holy; God guiding us to maturity, a practical, progressive holiness.” As soon as I heard its definition, I knew right away why I never had any desire to learn more about it. I was scared that if I understood and truly embraced what sanctification meant, it might actually force me to change. There was even a chance that I’d be changed without even wanting to be changed and that all this change might eventually force me to leave my safe little world of "comfortable Christianity." I know it doesn’t make much sense and seems totally counterintuitive, but following my brain injury, God started teaching me and making me aware of many things that I’d failed to recognize before, with one of these being my discovery of and my new-found interest in this word.
I truly believe that my new understanding of sanctification has been instrumental in my renewed and rejuvenated faith journey over the last few years. I realized that sanctification is a never-ending path towards holiness that we all must travel. Understanding and embracing that all Christians are on this same path has been changing the way I view myself, the way I view others, and the way I view God. When I finally learned what sanctification meant, it became easier to forgive myself when I fail. It’s also easier to forgive and encourage others when they mess up.
Some days and some seasons will be better than others. But no matter how many times we falter, no matter how many times we fail, we must never forget that God's love and grace always remain the same. We must always remember that we all serve the same loving and patient God who expects and empowers progress but never demands perfection.
Eugene Peterson once said something that I think alludes to what sanctification means to every believer:
"There are no experts in the company of Jesus. We are all beginners."
I think it’d be wise to remember these words as we all strive for and encourage each other's sanctification, as we all grow and mature into who Jesus is calling us to be!