“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” (Matthew 7:24-25, emphasis mine).
In recent years I’ve been increasingly concerned that most churches are doing very little to help provide a Christ-centered foundation for the lives of their people. I grew up in a large, growth-oriented church, and I knew a lot about the importance of faith being relevant to society, but I’ve seen in the last decade that relevance rarely leads to transformation.
In fact, when relevance for Christian ministry becomes a primary goal I think we’re prone toward disillusionment because it’s impossible to ever be relevant enough. Relevance doesn’t provide the foundation for becoming Christ-like, and in fact, often impedes such a goal.
What we need in order to become more like Jesus is to embrace being in apprenticeship to him, seeking to follow him, allowing more of Him to come through in our lives. This starts with a movement of faith where we step out in belief in Jesus, but it is also a daily, moment by moment action and decision to follow him.
The point of discipleship is to become like your rabbi, Jesus. What we should be longing for is a transformation, a continual movement toward becoming more like our rabbi, our teacher, our example, our Savior, Jesus. Dallas Willard describes this transformation as spiritual formation, the overtaking of a human life by Jesus, saying:
“Spiritual formation in the Christian tradition is a process of increasingly being possessed and permeated by the character traits of Jesus as we walk in the easy yoke of discipleship with Jesus our teacher.”
The reality is we are all being transformed all the time. Who you are in 5 years will be significantly different from who you are today. The question is not whether you are being transformed but who or what you are being transformed into. Is it Jesus?
Pew Research recently released a religious study saying 70.6% of people in America claim they are Christians, but if American society does not look more like Christ, it’s clear we have a problem. Too many Christians are not intentionally putting ourselves in position to be transformed by Jesus.
We have bought into the idea of believing in Jesus but not really following him.
What we really believe about Jesus shines through by how we respond to his extravagant grace. Are you willing to give up your life for it?
We cannot live the Kingdom of God and leave our way of life untouched.
We must be willing to shift our daily habits to create space for Jesus to shape us into him through the ups and downs of life.
At the end of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says that it is those who put into practice his teaching that are wise. With this in mind, there’s one question to ask:
How have you put your faith into practice?
If you’re near Salem, Oregon, come join me at New Harvest Church for our summer series titled Practices For the Way.