Being & Building Followers & Friends of Jesus
Whatever we truly do for God, it is Christ in us. Whatever holiness we have is not ours to take credit for, but Christ’s to be glorified with. Even then, it is not what Christ does, but who Christ is—and how he is being formed in us.
Slowly, we are becoming the people God created us to be. Slowly, the new life Christ has in us is growing outward. However, it’s not all about waiting for things to happen. We can begin, even now, to put on our new identities in Christ, even as we wait to mature enough to “fill out the suit.”
In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going (John 14:2–4).
When we look to Jesus, we “know the way to where [he] is going,” and consciously turn ourselves in that direction. As we look to Jesus, we see One who “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7), but who nonetheless was in constant communion with God. It is simultaneously putting the flesh to death and living entirely for the Father. This can become our increasing reality—not perfectly, but intentionally, and progressively better. We position ourselves, we put on the new self that’s already ours—and as we do, the Spirit empowers us.
Because he is the New Man, Jesus looks at even the most common things in godly terms, and by doing so transforms them into lessons, parables, teaching instruments… temporal things capable of conveying eternal life. In doing so—and because we remain connected with him—he continually shows us how to follow him as human beings. We become people capable of conveying eternal life.
We are no longer—check that: never were—self-appointed experts, no matter what the world tells us. We are God’s children, whom God increasingly entrusts with the fullness of his life so that the other kids can see it. In the words of Thomas Merton, “We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners, all our life!”
There is so much God has for us next, and our perspective and our actions need to change to reflect that. We need to take those steps of faith that will allow the Spirit to change our perceptions and our actions—so that we faithfully and intentionally put ourselves in places where only God can work.
We have not been left alone to figure out how to follow him. “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26–27).
It’s a common misconception that walking in the Spirit invites abuse. The fact is: It’s the counterfeits of walking in the Spirit that invite the abuse, not the real thing. If we are truly in Christ, it will be impossible to go out into left field. Christ takes care of us, and the Spirit “will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13).
When in doubt, give yourself this test: Is what I’m experiencing helping me love God more, and love others more—or just helping me to love myself and my experiences more?
Our new lives in Christ bear fruit by abiding, not merely by doing (John 15:4–10). We are to pass along the life God’s given us, in the ways he’s given it to us, not manufacture something “to please God”—which doesn’t. It’s possible that God will honor our intent, and yet the works themselves will be “wood, hay, straw… and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done” (1 Corinthians 3:12–13). Isn’t it better to pass on the things you know God’s given you?
Receive the new identity you’ve been given in Christ, and cover yourself in it like it’s armor—because it is. Then, get ready to walk forward.
Lay It Down Today
Take as long as you need for this one—it could be a minute; it could be an hour. But get somewhere quiet and repeat the following to yourself: “I am in Christ, and Christ is in me.” Allow some silence between each repetition, but keep repeating this truth until it sinks in.
Then, once you’re “there,” ask yourself: “If Christ is in me, what does Christ want to do through me?” This is not asking, “What would Jesus do?” This is discovering how we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). If you settled on an answer during your activity in “Pick Up Your Cross,” dwell and pray more on it now. If not, dwell and pray anyway; earnestly seek an answer from God, and discover your first steps in making that answer a reality.