My wife, Michelle, likes to make a dessert called "Death by Chocolate" (at least that's what I call it). She takes Oreo cookies and crumbles them into a crust. On top of that, she puts rich chocolate ice cream. The topping is made out of pure fudge. Then, she pours hot fudge syrup over the top. "Over the top" it definitely is. It's so rich that you can only have a little bit at a time. That's a bit how I found the wisdom of this fourth conversation - there is so much of it that I don't know where to begin and I can't begin to try to to cover all its richness and complexity. Therefore, I want o highlight what was, for me, the best sentence in the chapter and the most life-changing in the book so far.
...our sanctification did not depend upon changing our works, but in doing that for GOD's sake, which we commonly do for our own.
Now, sometimes we as believers speak in Christianese - we speak with words that don't really make sense to those outside of the realm of faith. Sanctification is one such word. We don't use it apart from Bible-speak, but what does it really mean? Well, sanctification comes from the Greek word, hagiozo, which means to "separate" or to "set apart". Sanctification is not the same thing as salvation in the biblical sense of the term. Sanctification is basically the idea of "growing in holiness" or, to put it another way - becoming more and more like Jesus.
So, becoming more like Jesus does not involve changing all of our behavior, or the work that we do. The real transformation, the radical change, is that we do many of the same things, but with a change in our motivation. Are you a school teacher? Well, instead of teaching because you like to teach, becoming like Jesus is asking, "How can I teach for God?" If you are a doctor, instead of treating patients for their own health, you do it as a service to the Lord. If you own a small business or work in retail, profit doesn't become the bottom line, serving God does.
Dallas Willard puts a similar notion this way: "We must continually ask ourselves the question, 'How do I live my life as Jesus would live my life if he were I?'" Jesus doesn't need us to imitate Jesus (to be Jesus). Jesus did a perfect job being Jesus. We can't really improve on what he already did. What Jesus does desire is for us to enter into our own unique circumstances, with our own unique personality and giftedness, and live our life as he would that life with our circumstances. This is the real question behind the, now cliche, "What Would Jesus Do?" campaign. The real change is nothing more than a mental shift of focus, intention, and the real motivation behind our work.
What are some other specific things that you can think of in your own life that might become acts of worship if you just altered the motive and reason for doing them? What's keeping you from doing that?
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Ecclesia Writer's Consortium
We are blessed at Ecclesia to have a number of gifted writers and teachers. Here, you'll find devotions, meditations, and musings from a sample of those writers.