One of the goals of spiritual growth is to become the kind of persons that without effort are loving, joyful, and full of peace. To rely on our sheer effort to put on these characteristics works for a short time but falters whenever we are tired, angry, or lacking inspiration.
We can start being joyful, not acting joyful. We can start being kind, not acting kind. We can start being loving, not acting loving. We can start being compassionate, not acting compassionate. These things will start flowing out of us without great effort.
But do we believe that this is possible? Do we believe that we can Grow Up? Do we believe that embodying the Fruits of the Spirit is possible for our own lives, as messed up and broken as we are?
The character of Christ oozed out of him at all times and Jesus never let those around him keep him from being the person he was. If it was up to the disciples, Jesus would have ignored children that enjoyed being close to him. If it was up to the disciples, Jesus would have rushed past the woman with the chronic bleeding. If it was up to the Pharisees, Jesus would have stopped hanging with sinners and tax collectors and prostitutes and the lepers and the destitute.
In the eyes of those around him, Jesus needed to be someone he was not. Thankfully for those that encountered him when he was here on earth and for us now who have him dwelling within us, Jesus is always who was intended to be – the good shepherd, the prince of peace, the life giver.
We have to follow Jesus’ example and be exactly who we were called to be, so that we don’t have to think twice when we need to serve someone else. We don’t have to be crushed by hard times. We can speak to the wonders of God and his saving mercy because it is always on the tip of our tongues. We can worship no matter what setting we find ourselves in or the state of our current condition.
You can change, not by trying harder, but by embracing the very one who possesses all of the love, joy, peace, gentleness, strength, courage, and sacrifice that we need. Let his message and life and spirit dwell in us richly so we can start reflecting his character and then living his life, even in our own limited way. Find whatever means possible to bring you in fellowship with Jesus – worship, prayer, retreat, service, fasting, silence. This will change your heart and breed transformation.
Dallas Willard says that, “The greatest danger to the Christian church today is that of pitching its message TOO LOW.” Set your mind on these Christ-like things and ask him to transform you into the true embodiment of your new life in Christ. Don’t worry about your limitations or where you will fall short because the tiniest growth in Christ is a revolutionary step toward wholeness and a transformed world.