What is the goal of the Christian life? We were created for God’s glory and to proclaim his praises. Our chief purpose in life is to glorify and enjoy God forever. We exist to worship God with a genuine heart.
Another way to describe our goal in life is to become more like Christ. In Christ, we have a new identity and a new purpose for living.
We do not need to look like Jesus physically. We do not try to match his carpentry skills, his language skills, or his knowledge of agriculture.
Rather, we are to be like him “in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24) In our behavior and in our devotion to God, we are to be like Jesus Christ.
How is the transformation accomplished in our lives? Paul exhorts, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 8:29) Both heart and mind are involved. Behavior is, too. The three of these work together in those who are being transformed by Christ.
Simply knowing the truth is not enough. Behavior alone is not enough. If we go through the motions without really believing in God, we are play-actors. Even if we believe in God and do the right actions, if our heart is far from God, our worship is in vain. If we sing God’s praises without feeling any affection for him, we are hypocrites.
We need right beliefs, right actions, and right emotions. If the heart is right and our beliefs are right, then right behavior will be the result. We can preach the gospel, attend church regularly and do good works, but God is the one who must change the hearts and produce a response.
The church welcomes repentant and struggling sinners, but not unrepentant, uncaring ones. Our model is Jesus Christ, who welcomed white-collar criminals and prostitutes, but did not welcome people who thought they had no need for repentance.
Jesus was committed to people — he loved the lost, and he criticized people who thought they were religiously superior to others.
He demonstrated what it looks like to be in a relationship with God and with each other. His disciples related to him as their teacher and also to one another. Jesus formed them into a group that would reach out and invite others in.
Our goal in life is to worship God and to be like Jesus Christ. How do people get to this point?
Allow our minds, hearts and thus our behavior to be transformed by the Holy Spirit. Yet, in it all, remember it begins with Christ and it is God who changes people’s hearts.
Kathy Houston of White Hall is pastor of Grace Communion International Pine Bluff.
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