“Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity ...” (Hebrews 6:1a NIV)
Although God does the heavy lifting in our transformation to Christ-likeness, we still bear the responsibility to keep discipline part of discipleship.
Therefore, we no longer run aimlessly; we have the sizeable objective of becoming just like Jesus. And so, as the Apostle Paul describes it, we beat our bodies into submission as we press on toward our objective (1 Corinthians 9:26–27).
But, as we’re beating discipline into our thoughts and behavior, we too often slip into beating ourselves up over the inability to do the things we ought to do (Romans 7:16–25).
Here’s the thing: Becoming like Jesus is difficult enough without this “Try harder!” mentality we force upon ourselves. It sucks us into a cycle of “I must do better,” “I ought to pray more,” and “I should be spiritually more mature by now.” We’re left feeling defeated, and that pushes us further into our cycle of trying harder to measure up to God’s standards.
But can you see that this keeps us focused on ourselves and on the things we can’t do?
God wants us focused on the things he can do through us. He wants us to know that, having begun a good work in us, he “will carry it on to completion” until we see Jesus face-to-face (Philippians 1:6 NIV).
Paul, ever the exhorter, says we’re to push toward the ideal, but these standards were never meant as imperative “ought-to” statements demanding immediate perfection from us. Perhaps more than any one of us, Paul understands our desperate need for God’s grace.
Our objective is to make every effort to mature into believers who think and act just like Jesus. We may slip, we may fail horribly, but we press on to take hold of the abundant life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Philippians 3:12).
Jon Walker’s new book, In Visible Fellowship: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer's Classic Work “Life Together,” is a study of small group life.
Jon is managing editor of Rick Warren’s Daily Hope Devotionals and the author of Costly Grace: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer’s “The Cost of Discipleship.” This devotional © Copyright 2012 Jon Walker. All rights reserved. Used by permission.