Now that we know who our teacher is we have to watch out for a major pitfall – trying to do what Jesus says. Our goal is not to try but to train ourselves to become like Jesus. This is the power of off-the-spot training (spiritual disciplines) that reorients our lives and begins to work on our heart, in conjunction with the Holy Spirit.
To figure out this “inside out” stuff, take a Bible and turn to I Corinthians 13. This is a familiar chapter full of descriptions of what love is. The easiest thing to do is to say, ” Because love is patient and kind I have to go out and be patient and kind.” The problem is I have taken on the sole responsibility to modify my behavior and change something about myself. By shear will, I will change. This determination cannot be sustained and we end up failing again and again.
By contrast, what if I took John 15 to heart and worked on abiding in Jesus, the true vine. By staying connected to the vine, I am constantly tapping into the source of Christ within me and I gradually begin to change and begin to produce fruit such as kindness and patience. Christ is the one who does the changing and transforming. I simply have to remain in the vine through prayer, scripture reading, fasting, etc.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6