Following Jesus is a life-long journey that takes us to the fullness of who we were created to be, free of our ties to the world, free of the dominion of our minds and egos, free of the control of our lives, free to follow Jesus wherever He would lead us. It takes our willingness, our surrender of who we think we are, and our obedience to the “still small voice of God” (1 Kings 19:12) within us. This process takes time; it takes persistence, it takes our willingness to look at the sum total of our lives—the good, the bad and the ugly (as the old western movie title says)—and asking God to heal all that doesn’t belong or needs forgiveness or doesn’t define who we are in God’s eyes. When Jesus said “My yoke is easy and my burden light,’ (Matthew 11: 28-30) he was fully describing what it feels like to let Him lead us as He will, because He will carry all our burdens for us.
If we are still thinking the way we have always thought, and doing things the way we always did them, then we are not listening to Jesus’s guidance and direction for us. Step by step we are to change who we are from a flawed human being into a child of God. Jesus will show us those steps; He will heal us of all our sin, our judgments, our unforgiveness, our defensiveness, and more. The steps He proposes are suggestions to us which we can ignore or follow. It is up to us whether we will follow His lead which will lead us to peace, love, joy, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness and gentleness (Galatians 5:22-23); all the fruit of the spirit will be gradually expressed in our lives and these qualities in us will express the mercy, love and forgiveness of God to the world, to all that we come into contact with. And thus, our lives come to fruition, to fulfillment, to purposeful living.
If we are not following the voice of the Indwelling Spirit of God, we are living in the world still and attached to our own way of doing life; we are steeped in judgment and defensiveness, we are clearly of the world, not of God, even if we would say that we are believers in Christ, that we love God. We are just not living that truth. We are only claiming it as our own. We’re still in control of our lives. We’re still living out the dreams of this very materialistic nation. We’re holding God/Christ/Spirit at bay as we cling to our ways.
We have to watch where our loyalties lie—to the church we belong to or to God himself. Our church’s role should be to point us to a deeper and deeper relationship with God himself, in the Spirit, in Jesus or Christ, not to make our loyalty to the church’s ways primary. We can study the Bible, express our faith in God, and enter into the fellowship of the church, but we are to allow God to open our minds to what He wants us to hear, what He wants us to believe, what He wants us to do with our lives. If God is not our primary source of wisdom and direction for our lives, then we are still closed off to Him and open only to what our church or we ourselves are saying that we should do.
The questions we should be asking ourselves are these: What is God calling me to do or say right now in this moment, to this person? What is the next step of faith for me that God is pointing me to? What thoughts/feelings/pain do I need to lift up to God in prayer, so that I can be healed of all that is not of God in me? Whatever is in my life that keeps me from loving you, God, and my neighbor, with all of myself, help me surrender it to you, Lord, so that I can be wholly yours.
These questions bring us to the presence of God in our lives, to His wisdom for us, to whatever He would highlight that needs to go. They take us out of the past and out of our worries about the future to living in the present moment with all that it brings to us, to living in the presence of God. As I said above, this is a lifelong journey for each of us, a step by step following the voice of God within us:
The richness that we will experience,
the joy that will come to us from being who we were created to be,
the peace about our whole lives that we reside in,
and our patience, forgiveness and love for ourselves and others,
our goodness, kindness and gentleness with all human beings—
all this will come to us as we are slowly healed of all the pain and egotism and human reactions, as we slowly become the children of God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9) We will be at peace and everyone around us will experience the peace of God through us, as we follow Jesus wherever He would lead us. I’m not sure that our conversion is 100% until we die into God’s arms, but I do know that we can be at peace and not be bothered by all the human qualities within us of judgment, anger, defensiveness, etc. Just think of Jesus offering us the way to live and choose Jesus’s way which has been laid out for us in the Gospels. If we follow Him rather than anything in the world, we will be led to great peace and joy and love and forgiveness and fulfillment. What more would we want out of life?
Questions to ponder over the week: Do I belong to this world or to God? What in my life shows that allegiance to all that God asks of me? Can I hear God’s “still small voice” within me? Can I distinguish it from what my own mind is telling me I should be doing? Where is my loyalty? To myself and the world or to God?
Blessing for this week: May we be the people of God who demonstrate our allegiance to, our love for God in all that we do and say. May we follow all His suggestions for us no matter own initial reaction to them. May we be at peace in our lives.
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