We were made to be like Jesus — but how is that different than trying to be like Buddha or Confucius? Most religions teach you have to do something — say the right prayers, do the right things and hope it will be enough. No amount of good works or religious deeds can ever save anyone. The Christian gospel teaches that no one can earn salvation, and yet it is available to all, because Jesus gives it to us.
Christianity says that God himself will supply the power we need to change our lives. We humans have gotten ourselves into this mess and we can’t rescue ourselves.
We are not trying to transform ourselves into the image of Christ — we want to let God do it in us. The Bible describes this as Jesus Christ living in us. The power to change our behavior comes from him, not from within ourselves. It is his work, not anything we can take credit for.
Christianity motivates us through grace and love, not through threats. We obey God not out of fear, but out of love and thankfulness for what he has done.
Christianity says that we were created for a purpose and that purpose is eternal happiness (Psalm 16:11). Jesus lives in eternal glory, and says that we can join him in that glory, if we trust him.
God works in us as we submit to him. “It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).
We need to value the eternal life that Jesus offers us — and we need to act like it is more valuable than the temporary rewards of this mortal life. We should love God more than we love money, physical pleasures or the success that this world offers. Those things are temporary, so we need to keep our eyes on the goal of eternal life, with eternal pleasures and eternal significance.
We have a choice. If we want a meaningful life, a satisfying life, an enjoyable life, then we need to look to Jesus as our model and as the power that can change our lives. God wants us to live forever in love and joy, and we need to trust him to do the work that he has already begun. He’s the one who created us to be “in his own image”; he’s the one who sent Jesus to guarantee it for us; we can be sure that he will finish his work in our lives. Trust him, and open your life to let him work more powerfully!
Kathy Houston of White Hall is pastor of Christian Fellowship Center of Grace Communion International.
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