I Have Learned There Is No Substitute … (5)

footprints_2.jpgI have learned that there is no substitute for getting serious about my own formation into the image of Christ.  

 
I don’t think I can overemphasize this one.  After all, the Christ-in-you church begins with Christ-in-you individuals.  Yet, any group of people who are not intentionally following Christ will no doubt be lured by the seductive voices of idols.  These idols have a way of promising so much.  In particular, they promise to heal our hurts and satisfy our hearts. 

 
Yet, following Christ or living as a Christ-in-you person focuses on Christ as the one voice that must be heard above all others.  We are called to trust his voice rather than the idols.  This is an act of faith.

 
Far too many people focus on their involvement in church, their knowledge of the Bible, and their support of various church programs.  Yet, the truth is that one can be busy with church activities without taking seriously the call of Jesus to come and follow him. 

 
It really doesn’t matter how many books I’ve read, how many college or seminary degrees I hold, or how much work I do through our church, there is no substitute for pursuing the Christlike life.
 

  • What is the most important desire for anyone who would be a good wife/husband/mother/father?  Pursue the Christlike life!
  • What is the most important charge that could be given to a Christian minister?  Pursue the Christlike life!
  • What should a Christian businessperson undertake in his or her work?  Pursue the Christlike life! 

I genuinely believe this.  I believe that the pursuit of the Christlike life is a pursuit like no other.

 
What is it that continues to enhance and nurture this pursuit in you?

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13 thoughts on “I Have Learned There Is No Substitute … (5)

  1. Jim,
    This one is so hard.  I don’t know if I have any good answers.  I would like to think that if I just try harder or study more it will become easier, more natural, but I keep finding myself getting in the way.  I guess the thing that helps me the most is spending time with people who actively seek God and who recognize his hand in their daily lives.  I don’t know if it will ever get easier, but maybe I’ll learn to recognize when I’m becoming self-absorbed more quickly so I can refocus.  Thanks for bringing up the hard questions.

  2. You are absolutely right  Jim; once we get into a relationship with God we must understand that that relationship like any other must be properly maintained. I believe that we maintain it not by just attending every activity of the church, but by our daily pursuit of God and his holiness. Perfect church attendance is great but it is not a good way to truly evaluate the hearts of men. Hence there can be no substitution for a personal relationship with God and conforming to his image. 

  3. Jim, what seems to sustain me lately is community.  A small community of people who remind me to nurture my relationship with God, and provide a place where we can talk about it.  Where we can talk about the ups, downs, mysteries, new revelations.  I used to think that my own self upheld this one, and I have come to the place where I simply cannot avoid the fact that I cannot do this on my own.  My own willpower is insufficient.  My own desire is insufficient.  That’s hard for me to say "out loud" but it’s really true.  

  4. Jim, Great thought here. I particularly think it is easy to get off track here in America, because the idols here have such a strong appearance of promise and can even seem at home in a "Christian" context.
     
    But these idols demand all. And in the end what do they leave you with? With most, empty promises. But with others who have come to have a good slice of the American dream, they leave them impoverished I’m afraid, to what true life is, all too often.
     
    Yes, spiritual formation in Jesus. This is what we need for everything in all of life, but really for God’s kingdom and will, not our own. And yet as his children we end up heirs of all in the end.

  5. I don’t mean to say that making alot of money is necessarily wrong at all, because it certainly is not.
     
    I do applaud the emphasis here, because I think it’s at the heart of what life is all about for us now, who are in Jesus. We’re in formation as we seek to follow Jesus.

  6. Hi Karen,I suspect that a lot of people can identify with you on this one (in terms of the difficulty).  I like what you said regarding the value of being with people who actively seek God and see his hand in their daily lives.  This can be a practical and helpful step. 

  7. Hi Jennifer,I’m glad you mentioned the value of community.  This goes far beyond church attendance and into what it means to experience shared life with one another.I appreciate what you said about your own insufficiencies.  As much as this grates against our pride (mine included), recognizing this really is major.Thanks. 

  8. I have found my deepest spiritual formation coming through meditation on the humiliation and sufferings of Christ. I find it keeps me honest about who I am and what God will do for me. His is the wound that heals. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book, The Cost of Discipleship said, "The image of God is the image of Christ crucified. It is to this image that the life of the disciples must be conformed: in other words, they must be conformed to his death". (from the last chapter, The Image of Christ). Bonhoeffer is simply working out the spiritual principles of Romans 6-8. I would only add that dying with Him that we might live with Him is a daily experience, the essence of abiding in Christ. All other things grow from this root. My own experience confirms this truth.

  9. Jan,Very good and said very well!  I appreciate the Bonhoeffer reference as well.  A writer who has had a significant impact on me.