I am lazy; I admit it. I often do not go after the things I want because it takes effort I don’t want to give. That has held true in my Bible reading as well. I either breeze through it, or I have excuses for not even opening my Bible. I have dedicated most of my adult life to studying the Bible, so I’m not sure why I am like this now that I am retired and have time to dedicate to studying.
I had a writing assignment for a publisher for which I write meditations, poems, and other writings. They gave me the assignment to write thirteen Bible expositions on the life of Jesus mostly from the Gospel of John. It was a frightening thought that I would write something and lazily misrepresent the scriptures and story of Jesus, but I accepted it. I prayed regularly for help. I admitted my laziness and asked God to help me write for His glory and not my own. I ask God to empty me of my self and fill me with his Holy Spirit. All in all, I threw myself on his mercy, trusting his love.
Four months later I have finished the assignment, except for some final edits. It has changed me. I have read books by great Christians on the Gospel of John and the life of Jesus; I have consulted commentaries. I have read chapters on the Name of Jesus. I have seen Jesus in a depth of truth I had not seen him before.
One day the miniseries “The Life of Jesus” was on the list of Amazon Prime movies and I thought I should watch it so it would help me see some of the events of Jesus life played out before me. I know that it was an actor’s portrayal and a director’s interpretation, but I know they do a lot of research to get the part as close to the most accurate representation as possible. I saw something in Jesus during this movie I wanted. If I am a Christian and I am, then I am a representative of Jesus to the world around me, and I was not like the Jesus I saw. I wanted to be like THAT!
I want to be the kind of person who loves at all times. I am very introverted, and Jesus wasn’t. I am very guarded because of past hurts, and Jesus never was. Jesus never worried what others thought. He only confronted false claims with the truth. He never once licked his wounds or expected special treatment. Trying to be more like Jesus would be a massive step for me. I would have to step out of character. Not only that, I would have to let go of my insecurities, my guard, all my defenses and I don’t know if I can do that.
I have accepted my past with its mistakes and failures. I can see how I have grown through them, and I don’t have huge resentments. I do believe God can and has made something good out of my poor decisions. But they have still had their effect on consequences on my life. God has blessed me richly, and I praise God daily for all he has given me. Even in my wildest dreams, I would not have seen my life as blessed as it is right now. Except I am still plagued with insecurities, bad attitudes about myself and the ability to find something demeaning in everything someone says about me.
Applying What I Learned
After researching and reading the Scripture references many times, my eyes were opened to understand words I had heard all my life in the church, Bible studies, Christian conferences, and Christian books. “We cannot live the Christian life in our own strength.” DUH! We were never intended to live it by our own strength and determination. Jesus was fully God, but he was also fully human. He told his disciples that he never lived his human life by his own conviction of what that looked like. He said to his disciples in John 14:9-11 that He was in the Father and the Father was in him.
Of course, Jesus was God, and so we can dismiss those scriptures as a “Jesus thing.” He says it was the Father in him who was doing the work. In John 8:28-29, Jesus says he only speaks what just what the Father has taught him and does what pleases the Father. Well isn’t THAT interesting. We are off the hook, right? Sinful us can’t have the same privilege as Jesus!
Jesus doesn’t leave it there. He doesn’t leave his disciples or us off the hook. In the last lessons to his disciples before his crucifixion, he tells them how it’s done. We have to admit we cannot do it on our own. As John Eldredge says in his devotional, “Restoration Year,” we can look good being a Christian as cut flowers look good in a vase. We can go through all the actions of being a Christian and wither into ugliness in time. To be a true representative of Christ, we must be so attached to him that we get out very life from him as a branch receives its life from the vine, John 15.
To wrap this up—We must be Jesus in the same way Jesus was Jesus. We have to be in Christ and He in us. We have to step out of our character into his character. He has removed the barrier that separates us from God and has given us the Holy Spirit. All we have to do is accept this truth to receive his righteousness that replaces our sinful state.
Observe a young child in their mother’s arms. They are fully content and trusting. Wherever the mother goes, they go. Whatever the mother does they participate. We are told by Jesus to be like a child. Fully trusting and fully content in Him. It may sound confining, but it is freeing. Why? In John 14:30-31 Jesus says that Satan has no hold on him. In Jesus we have no insecurities, no reason to guard ourselves from others, no regrets! Imagine!