This morning I was skimming through my newest copy of Conversations (a journal that is focused on spiritual transformation). I began reading an article entitled C. S. Lewis and "The Region of Awe" (David C. Downing). This paragraph caught my attention:
Lewis defined the basic Christian walk not in terms of striving after ethical ideals but in terms of mystical transformation. In Mere Christianity he explained succinctly that "every Christian is to become a little Christ." He added that "putting on Christ" is "not one among many jobs a Christian has to do; it is not a sort of special exercise for the top class. It is the whole of Christianity." (Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 120)
There is this sense in which Christ is being formed in me. Yes, I am imitating Christ in the sense that I want my life to be a reflection of his. I want to take on his values. I want to take on his sense of priority (as in seeking first the kingdom). I want to look at the way he handled himself in various situations and take my cues from him.
Yet, this is more than the kind of imitation that I did in second grade. I can vaguely remember holding a Big Mo pencil in my left hand and trying to trace the letters of the alphabet. Underneath the sheet of paper on which I was writing, each letter had been printed. Now, I was to place my paper over these letters and trace each one of them. There is something to be said for this, but living the Christlike life is even more than this.
Something is happening in me. I am a "new creation." There is a newness that I am experiencing in Christ. In other words, while on one level I am intentionally trying to live like Jesus, there is something else at work here. The Holy Spirit is at work in me forming and shaping me into someone new — like Christ.
So what does all of this really mean?
1. It means that the "new me" doesn’t depend upon how well I can perform or how good I can be. The Christlike life is not based on who can perform the best.
2. It means that while there are ethical mandates, the Christlike life is centered around something that is happening inside me that results in an outside expression.
3. It means I should not resort to saying, "That’s just the way I am." Rather, we should think in terms of how God wishes to change us and re-create us.