“I pray that out of his glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” Ephesians 3.16-17a
Jesus asked His disciples to do a lot of things – everything from leaving their homes and following Him to being perfect as the Father is perfect. As it turns out, Jesus expects us to do those same things as well. We may not have to leave our homes to follow Him, but to follow Jesus Christ definitely requires that we leave what is comfortable, safe and convenient – spiritually, emotionally and intellectually, if not physically. As if that were not enough, Christians are expected to be loving, forgiving, merciful, gracious, wise, compassionate, giving, caring and on and on and on. I don’t know about you, but I have not found a single one of those things to be simple to do.
It’s not easy being Christian, unless of course we make Christian faith and discipleship less than it is, which we Christians have been known to do. If we’ll all just act nice, be a good citizen, and help others from time to time, then God is going to be pleased with us and let us into heaven when we die. Never mind that nothing about that representation of Christian life even remotely resembles Jesus’ life; it is the definition of discipleship far too many of us use.
To be a Christian is to be like Christ. What He did, we are to do. We are to go to the unwanted, forgive the undeserving, find the lost, challenge the wrong-headed, be merciful to wrong-doers, bring hope to the despairing, give life to the dead, and love everybody while we’re doing everything. No small order there… It’s hard to be a Christian, if we decide to take it seriously.
The problem most of us have is that we try to be Christian – try to be like Christ – even though we are not Christ. To strive to have the heart and mind of Christ as mere mortals is an exercise in futility. Who can be that good, that holy and that perfect but God Himself? We become discouraged and decide that “being good” is all that is required. We lack the power and the strength to be Christian in the image and likeness of Christ. When we finally understand this, we are only just beginning to be ready to set out on the adventure of Christian life.
The key to Christianity is to let God do the work. That’s the whole point of salvation. If you or I could do what it takes to be like Christ, why would we need Christ? Being Christian – Christ-like – on our own is impossible, but Christ excels at being Himself. When we stop being full of ourselves – full of the works we do, full of religious busy-ness, and full of our own goodness – from the depths within us, the Holy Spirit increases. The Spirit of God, with the strength and power of God to accomplish the purposes of God, knits Himself to us in our humility. Then Christ, Who lives in us, brings the love, the mercy, the goodness, the grace and every gloriously rich, divine quality we need to live a Christ-like life.
It is God Who created us, God Who came looking for us in Jesus Christ and Who saved us through Him, God Who is joined to our inner being in the Spirit, and God Who possesses the qualities He desires the world to see in us. Really, about all we have to offer is humility and obedience. You wouldn’t think that would be so hard, would you? The things God can do with a humble and willing person and the life He can give to a humble and devoted individual are, well, divine.
Seems like an amazing tradeoff – just a little humility for the life of God to be given to us and for success in Christian faith as an added bonus! All it takes is a little humility, enough to let God do the work. Why is that so hard? What is it about human nature that we would rather struggle and fail and strive and disappoint than let God do the work for our success? Why does success have to come by our own efforts and not by Christ’s? The key to Christianity is to let God do the work; every other attempt eventually fails.
I pray that you will be humble enough this week for God to do some work in your life and succeed for you in Christian life and faith. It’s divine!
In Christ –
Ó 2007 Servants’ Feast Ministry