Thursday, December 18, 2014
If I Could Only Change
I recently posted the following: “Truly transformed lives come by looking at and examining everything we can about the cross, resurrection and person of Jesus Christ, not from the attempt to emulate Him. He does the work from inside of us—He brings us out—proving that He is our hope.”
What I’m getting at is that, in Christ, believers have already become like Jesus (1 John 4:17). There is no studying Jesus SO THAT or in order that we might become like Him, because we already ARE like Him. We have already been made holy and blameless as He is (Colossians 1:22), we’ve already been made righteous as He is (2 Corinthians 5:21), we’ve already been justified (Romans 4:25), we’ve already been redeemed (1 Corinthians 1:30), and actually share now in His nature (2 Peter 1:4). By looking into how that happened through Christ’s cross and resurrection, we live by faith in Jesus as an objective fact and as a place where we are, in Him, having been changed—triumphantly! Successfully. We’re in harmony with Him. Reconciled. Compatible.
Excluding things like omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence, to the extent that we believe we are not like Jesus but should be is the extent to which we do not believe the gospel and cannot live by faith that the change has been made, and are then frustrated in trying to make something happen that already has. The healthy-sounding phrase, “I want to be more like Jesus,” is unhealthy if and as it implies that we are not now like Him but should be, even though God thinks He’s already made us like Jesus. Instead, we believe that we are unlike Him and separate from Him, with a lot of work to do, but can get close and maybe even sometimes look like Him if only we will behave like Him. As important as behavior is, it doesn’t necessarily reveal who you are; what you believe about Jesus Christ reveals who you are.
No one can become like Jesus by copying Him—no one. Only by believing and receiving Him can He make the change that means we don’t copy or act like Him in order to become like Him; we act like Him because we have been made and are like Him right now. It’s our nature to act like Him. All of the New Covenant behavioral commands rest upon this. We’ve been changed into true and actual sons and daughters of God. So, being convinced of this (which is certainly the majority of our labor with the church—helping each other believe that God made the change, it has been done), it’s then normal for us to behave like Him, putting on love and mercy.
A disciple, then, is not one who pursues or follows Jesus in order to become like Him. After the cross, after the resurrection and after the New Covenant began, a disciple is one who has been changed by God, is now compatible with God, and who is now led by God from within. The work upon the disciple is done; it’s complete. The work within the disciple—where the kingdom is—goes on.
If you’ve lost your vigor and vitality as a Christian, it’s not because you’re not following hard enough after Jesus, trying to copy His behavior and become like Him. Rather it’s BECAUSE you’re trying to copy His behavior and become like Him, unaware you already are like Him. Disbelief is frustrating and wearing you out. You’ve traded knowing God, who produces a transformed life, for copying God, which produces a flesh-formed life, Adam-like life, fake life. One is Spirit and one is flesh. One fits you, and one does not.
Transformed lives are not those that we create and make happen, but those that HAVE BEEN created by God, and which we discover and believe by looking at Jesus, His crucifixion and His resurrection, which affected us just as He intended—perfectly. Done. Finished.
(This is a transcript of yesterday's video, "If I Could Only Change," and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click http://youtu.be/UE2rStCrRUo, or scroll down this page.)