“Salvation is not a future addition; it’s a present transformation.” Neil Anderson in Victory Over Darkness
Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek, coined the term “Holy discontent.” It’s that burning desire within you that enflames every time you think about (it) or encounter (it).
I have a few holy discontents.
One of these is real transformation in the lives of Christians.
It’s common knowledge today that Christians’ lives rarely look different from not-yet Christian lives. Read UnChristian by David Kinnaman or just hang around an assortment of lifelong churchgoers. What’s the difference? Well, most people say not much.
This is a far cry from Jesus saying things like: “”But if you stay joined to me and my words remain in you, you may ask any request you lie, and it will be granted! My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings great glory to my Father.” (John 15:7-8).
Or Paul writing about the “fruits of the Spirit” – “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce the kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23).
For too long, in an attempt to reject and rebel against any type of legalism (attempts to follow the rules in order to earn our way to salvation), we’ve discounted the amazing truth that life transformation through Jesus Christ — full, abundant, beautiful, oozing with the fruits of peace, patience, love, joy – is for NOW!
If Christians are going to truly experience the life that Jesus wants for them now, we need to understand that IT IS POSSIBLE. If Christians are going to show that a life in Jesus is truly BETTER, than we need to grasp this possibility. As Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch write in The Shaping of Things to Come, “We are not saved by our actions, but we are known by them.”
How to begin life transformation?
Step 1: Know the Life of Jesus ~ Many Christians understand Jesus is our example. More often than not, people look at Jesus and claim that his life is an ideal way to live, but not possible. It is. Read the truth about who you are in Christ and meditate on these truths.
“One of the revolutionary things about the Christian life is that we can be like Jesus in a way that no other disciples can be like their Master.” Michael Wilkins, In His Image.
Step 2: Open Up to the Work of the Spirit ~ Christians must yield to the Spirit and open the door for this transformation to occur. You must confess to Jesus that you need his help. Ask for the Spirit to help you. Life transformation can’t be done on our own. Trust me.
Step 3: Obey ~ Once you allow the Spirit to move, you must obey. This is the step that many Christians fail to get to. People hear the word “obedience” and think “legalism.” Real discipleship is about obedience. The Bible is clear that great is the reward of those who OBEY my commands! How can you say you believe in something and yet fail to obey what it says?
Transforming your life requires discipline, obedience, and submission. The paradox is found in our yielding and submitting to the Spirit (allowing God to do what God can only do) and disciplining ourselves to obey.
This Advent Season, reflect on your life. Does it look like the “fruits of the Spirit?” Would someone look at you and say: “That man/woman has IT. Their lives are different. They ooze love, joy, patience, goodness, generosity, selflessness.” Ask yourself, how have you changed over the last year? What is keeping you from doing so? Do you believe in the inheritance you can receive through Christ?
Salvation is not just for later. It’s for NOW! Embrace what is YOURS so YOU can bring the salt, light, and deeds to the world Jesus desires!!
May you come to know the beauty of life and life to the Jesus-full this Advent Season!