“I only want to do what I want to do.”
It’s a familiar phrase. It’s also part of our human nature to want what we want. Our heart wants what our heart wants. The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10) Our hearts can be very dark places.
Discipleship is about training. Discipleship is about transformation. Discipleship is about becoming what God intended for us from the beginning, so that, we can contribute to the expanding reign of the Kingdom of God. Your beginning, our beginning, was with God. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Pslam 139:13-16) Our life belongs to God, we tend to forget that and focus on what we want. Then, we wonder why our lives seem off kilter somehow. It’s like having sand in our shorts or a pebble in our shoe. Something is not right.
January is a calendar month. We’ve been culturally formed to consider initiating something new or corrective to behavior that has somehow gotten out of control. Even non-Christians understand the need for self-correction or getting more disciplined whether it is taking better care of our bodies, being more attentive to our most important relationships or diving deeper into our desire for meaning and purpose.
January is as good as any month to truly ascend toward becoming a better follower of Christ Jesus. Jesus is the greatest trainer and teacher that ever lived. His words are institutionalized all over the world as the bedrock for relationships and for caring for others. Jesus turned over the tables of selfish gain or material reward when He said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28) Fullness of life and robust Christian character will never come from seeking our own desires. The life we long for is discovered in sacrificing our will, our desires, our ‘wants’ in exchange for a holy sense of purpose and value. We may know this as Christian character.
Christian character is forged out of the iron of human will. Sometimes we need to get heated up, banged around a bit, cooled off and worked again in order to be of use for the Kingdom of God. Jesus is a master at this intense work because he works with love and admiration of the individual and knows exactly what it will take to form us into his masterpiece.
Consider all you’ve been through. What is Christ Jesus forming in you? Where have you hardened your heart and resisted, rebelled or refused him? Why have you done this and how can you respond in a Christ honoring way? Repentance.
Repentance is a beautiful reward to those who follow Christ. Stop. Turn around. He’s right there behind you. Look up at his glorious face. That is what others will see in you as you become more like him. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) Let’s try this again.