For many Christians the use of the term “evolution” automatically sends the mind in the direction of the scientific theory of evolution as a means of origin, and thereby leaves them cautious as to the direction of the discussion. However, there are very viable and accurate applications for this term that have nothing to do with the scientist’s brainchild. The term “evolution” is defined as, “any process of formation or growth; development; a process of gradual, peaceful, progressive change or development.” Therefore, in truth, evolution simply means change over time or the continued development of someone or something.
In a very real sense, the Christian is an evolving individual. Christianity is a process of development and growth that requires time, energy, and focus to accomplish. Consider three ways in which a faithful Christian evolves.
From Worldliness to Righteousness
I do not know of a single individual who knew every aspect of what they were to do and how they were to live their lives the moment they became a Christian. Developing a lifestyle that is focused on the commands of God and not on the desires of men takes time and effort; Paul wrote, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:2). That transformation is the evolving of the Christian from a life of worldly pursuits to one of righteous service.
This process is one that requires patience on the part of stronger, more developed Christians. It does not happen overnight, but it requires teaching and a changing of the mind as to what is most important. The caring Christian will desire to help the transforming Christian through teaching and encouragement to continue to develop as they should; this process is accurately described as one of evolution.
From Hopeless to Hopeful
When an individual is outside of Christ, there is no hope for things beyond this life. It is this understanding of hopelessness that leads people to turn to anything and everything to try to find happiness and fulfillment in life. Paul reminded the Gentiles, “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). They did not have God in their lives and thus were hopeless in their view of eternity.
Nevertheless, when an individual becomes a Christian he begins to understand what it means to be hopeful in something beyond this life. Hebrews 6 shows the level of hope that God has sought to make available to mankind; that man can trust his promises, believe his word, and have hope in eternity. The fullness of that hope takes time to develop. The surety in the mind of man that God will actually do what he says, and that it can and will include us, takes time to process and evince fully. Once it is there, the evolution of hope in the mind of a Christian can help to ensure his continued faithfulness for the rest of his life.
From Self-centered to God-centered
The lives of men apart from God are, generally speaking, highly self-focused. Most people are concerned with personal wealth, health, and security with only minimal concern for the needs and desires of others. However, the faithful Christian evidences an evolution that goes completely against the mindset of the carnal man. He voluntarily makes himself a servant, not to his own wishes and desires, but to the commands and wishes of the God he serves. This process is not immediate, but takes place through growth and development. The blueprint for this evolution is seen in the Christian Graces of 2 Peter 1:5-9. It begins with a properly placed faith and concludes with a sacrificial love. By the time one develops the conclusion of the Christian Graces there has been a complete transformation of life.
There is a song that is sometimes sung entitled, None of Self and All of Thee. In its four verses it details this exact development in the heart of the servant of God. The first verse describes someone who is in it for himself; he does not care about anyone else, but is only concerned with his own welfare. The second and third verses show a growth and progression in the individual, a willingness to listen to the Lord’s commands and to begin incorporating them into life and practice. The final verse shows the completion of the transformation when the individual is able to say, “I do not care about myself anymore, I simply want to do what is right.” The evolution of a Christian in this regard is truly a beautiful sight to behold and serves as a great encouragement to others, both Christian and non-Christian.
The evolution of the Christian is absolutely necessary if that servant is to be faithful to God. The Christian who does not develop and make the changes necessary remains weak and infantile in their service. Those who do not continue to grow stronger and more devoted as Christians eventually fall away; they give up and die spiritually because they never fulfilled the transformation process in their lives. Therefore, as a Christian, a servant of God, are you evolving as you should?