"Be all that you can be" is a statement that many identify immediately. For years it has been the slogan used by the army in its recruiting. Basically the recruiting ad challenges people to consider becoming the person he or she has the potential to be. It declares that a person can do that by creating opportunity through the experience and training gained by being in the army.

"Be all that you can be" would be an appropriate conversion slogan for God. God's specific challenge for every person is to become the full person he or she is capable of being by developing life in Jesus Christ. God states as fact that evil will never allow you to be all that you are capable of being. Evil will diminish you as a person; it will not develop you as a person. God states as a fact that life in Jesus Christ will develop you as a person spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. God affirms that nothing can develop you as a person as can living in Christ.

But there is a problem. Many people have found that the army provided excellent training and opportunity. More people have decided that army life is not the avenue to opportunity for them. Even if the army has provided you an excellent experience that you deeply appreciate, you likely would acknowledge that army life is not the life of opportunity for everyone. While the majority of us want to "be all that we can be," the majority of us do not believe that the army creates that opportunity.

The same problem exists regarding God. The majority of people do not believe that God provides them the opportunity to "be all that they can be." Many people are convinced that God prevents a person from being all that he or she can be. Unfortunately, many who profess to be Christians are convinced that following God is a liability to personal development, not an asset.

  1. The revelation of the life opportunity God extends us actually began in early Old Testament history with a man named Abraham.
    1. God offered Abraham a covenant, an agreement.
      1. The covenant or agreement contained both promises and conditions.
      2. The promises were that (Genesis 12:1-3):
        1. God would form a nation from his child.
        2. God would bless him.
        3. God would cause his name to be remembered.
        4. God would bless those who blessed him.
        5. God would curse those who cursed him.
        6. Through him God would produce a blessing that would benefit people throughout the world.
      3. The conditions were:
        1. Abraham must leave his country.
        2. Abraham must leave his relatives.
        3. Abraham must follow God's directions to an unspecified destination.
        4. Abraham must be a blessing.
      4. Abraham entered the covenant with God; he accepted the promises and the responsibilities.
        1. Abraham did that in spite of the fact that it would require him to leave one of the most advanced, civilized cities in the world to be a nomad.
        2. He did that in spite of the fact that he had no clue as to the location of this country.
        3. He did that in spite of the fact that he would separate himself from his extended family--in that day his extended family was his insurance, his social security, and his retirement.
        4. He did that in spite of the fact that he had no child.
    2. Knowing what we know about Abraham today, we might say that if God made us an offer like that, we would accept the agreement.
      1. Would we?
      2. "Yes! God made Abraham a wealthy, famous man--for fame and wealth, I would do the same thing."
      3. Are you sure?
        1. We are looking back at what God did for Abraham; Abraham could not look forward and see what God would do.
        2. Would you really leave your family, your home, your conveniences to roam around living in a tent for the rest of your life as you traveled to a destination that was not revealed to you?
        3. Would you do that when it required that you spend much of your life living among people who would kill you if they had the opportunity?
      4. If you are sure that you would accept without hesitation to the covenant God offered Abraham, have you accepted the covenant God offers you right now in Christ? What God offers you in Christ is greater than anything God ever offered Abraham.

  2. Why did Abraham accept the agreement? Why did he live under that agreement the rest of his life?
    1. Hebrews 11 discusses the people of the past who structured their lives around their confidence in God.
      1. Verse 4-12 discuss the trust that Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah placed in God.
      2. Verses 9, 10 says of Abraham specifically, By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
        1. Abraham realized that he did not belong to a typical earthly existence.
        2. He was looking for something that did not exist in the context of this world.
        3. He was looking for a city that was not designed and built by people, a city whose designer and builder is God.
      3. Verses 13-16 says of all these people of exceptional faith, All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
        1. They all knew that God was working through them to accomplish something greater than anything that they had received or experienced.
        2. None of them lived long enough to see God fulfill His ultimate promise.
        3. But they clearly understood that they did not belong to this world.
          1. Do you understand what it means not to belong?
          2. Life is about something far beyond living in this evil world.
        4. They did not belong here, and they were looking for a place that they did belong.
        5. At any time they could have changed their minds.
        6. They could have stopped trusting God and start living like everyone else.
        7. But, instead, they were never ashamed of God, and they wanted to live with God where He lived.
        8. For that reason, God was not ashamed of them, and God Himself prepared a special place for them to live.

  3. What does all that mean?
    1. It means many things, but I want you to focus on just one of those things.
    2. It means that they knew that they could never experience the fullest life that can exist if they confined their lives to an evil world.
      1. They understood that they could never be the persons that they had the potential to be by confining existence to an evil world.
      2. The only way that they could become what they had the potential to be was by placing their trust in God and following Him.
    3. Have you understood the same thing?
      1. Do you understand that mentally you will never be the person you are capable of being unless you live your life in Christ?
      2. Do you understand that your emotions will never be the positive force they are capable of being unless you live your life in Christ?
      3. Do you understand that your attitudes will never be the powerful, positive force in your life that they are capable of being unless you live in Christ?
      4. You will never be the person, the father, the husband, the mother, the wife, the friend, the employer, the employee, the citizen that you are capable of being unless you let God remake you in Christ.

The heart and core of Christianity is not about church membership. It is not about theological positions. It is not about traditions. It is not about rituals. It is not about heritage.

The heart and core of Christianity is about becoming all that you are capable of becoming. It is about being all that you are capable of being because in Christ Jesus you belong to God.

Why? Because that is the only place that your mind, your heart, your attitudes, and your behavior can defy the influence and control of evil.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 16 August 1998

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