. . . to be what you already are?
The Christian life is supposed to be a life of rest. So when does that start?
I have enjoyed the bumper sticker that says, “Are we having fun yet?” I think it should be on the cars parked at almost all churches.
If you listen to most preachers, the message of the gospel seems to be that we should strive to be something we are not. We should work harder to become good Christians, to be righteous or holy. We should do more to be accepted by God. We are given formulas, techniques, things to do to make ourselves worthy. And, just about the time you think you have put together the right kind of life, someone comes along with more.
In other words, most of the people who attend churches on Sunday hear that they should try very hard to become what Christ has already made them.
You see, those who are in Christ are already holy, already righteous, already good. I understand that your daily life doesn’t seem to measure up to the image of someone who is holy, but those actions are the results of bad habits, not of who you are. You are holy and good.
There is a big difference between changing what you do and changing who you are. If you see yourself as a sinner, as a broken person who continues to fail the requirements of God, then you will fail. Over and over. How can you change who you are? But you can change what you do, especially if you believe you are a person different from what that action or attitude indicates.
Example: You look around your house and you believe that you are messy. You tell yourself that you are disorganized and irresponsible and addicted to stuff. As long as you believe that’s who you are, then you will have the problem. No matter how much you pick up or clean up, a messy person will just be messy again. But when you look at yourself and see that you are organized and can be responsible and that you are content without buying or collecting all that stuff, then you can change your habits and be free. This is simply a motivational technique.
The problem comes when we have been told so often that we are nothing but dirty rotten sinners, in bondage to our evil actions. When we hear that every Sunday morning and read it in our devotionals and talk about it with other failing believers, then how can we change? We don’t want to be such terrible sinners, but we have no choice. No matter what we do, the preacher still preaches to us the same way.
What the preacher may not understand is that Jesus has given you His life. You died and now you live in Him. He is your righteousness and you have the same goodness as He does. That’s who you are. Sure, you may need to change your behavior, but you aren’t set up for failure from the beginning. If the preacher told you every Sunday that you were a new creation in Christ, pure and holy and good, you may actually start to believe it and live like it is true.
We will live out our days according to the pattern of the person we believe ourselves to be. We know that. But we can’t change the person we are. Only Jesus can do that. And all of those who belong to Him have already been changed.
Don’t spend your time and energy trying to become something you already are. Instead, live who you are.