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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Our Calling: To Be One


So many of us Christians baptized long ago, think we are always right; we think we do not sin. When Jesus prayed in John 17 for His disciples to be one with the Father as He and the Father are one, He was not just speaking of our hearts. Yes, we may pray to God at meals and before bed and we may read the Bible, but we may not be at a point yet where we are near God. 


Consider Jesus’ relationship with the Father. You say, well, that is obvious, they have to be close because they are both of the triune Godhead. Well, yes. Jesus was not speaking about that, though. Jesus was speaking of being one in mind, heart, and Spirit. Being one with God should not be a new idea to the Jews; their parents taught them the Shema from their birth. Though their parents taught them the Shema, that does not mean they lived by it. This is why Jesus is praying for His disciples; He wants every one of His disciples, then and now, to be as familiar with the Father as He is. 
For many, to become a Christian appears unreasonable. It does not make sense to follow something/someone you cannot see and because of this, many do not become believers. To most Christians, it might make sense to become a believer; God spoke to their hearts. They could not turn away from God’s call on their lives. The question remains, though, how is Jesus asking us to be in as close a relationship to the Father as He is? What does He mean? Well, consider the Shema. It says we are to love God with all our heart, mind, and strength. Christ added we are to love God with all our soul, too, when He stated it as the Greatest Commandment. When you became a Christian, you followed Him with your heart. You love Him with your heart. Growing to be more like the Lord, though, requires you to love Him with your mind, soul, and strength, too. Loving God with your soul/spirit comes once you love God will all of your heart, mind, and strength. These rely on each other.
Your next step after giving Him your heart is to love him with your mind. We must not just “conquer” our minds to live a civil life, but we must do it to live a moral Christian life. Jesus said if the outside of the cup is clean, it does not mean the inside is clean. It is the inside that is important Jesus said in Mark 7:23 (NASB), “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed…All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean’.” If you are not clean on the inside, which comes when God does not control your mind, then your sinful human thoughts taint whatever you do. Consider Consider this; theft comes from the internal feeling of greed or lust. Adultery comes from the feeling of lust which when decided and acted upon by the head and body results in adultery. Slander comes from jealousy or hatred, a decision by the head, which informs the body to act. God must control your head as well as your heart for you to be closer to Him the way He and Jesus are close.
Additionally, beyond the head and heart, to be near God, to be one with God as Jesus is, we need to give control of our actions to God. As we saw above, most times actions occur because of a decision we make, so the biggest part of living like Jesus is letting God control our hearts and minds. You must give God control of your body and actions; that is your offering to be one with Him. Consider, before you became a believer, the Holy Spirit did not live in you to guide you. Your body was susceptible to the leading of Satan in the world. You learned actions and reactions that are not those God condones. God needs to be one with you in this part of your life so He can re-teach you how to respond to different situations, for example, loss of home, betrayal, uncertainty. God’s ways to handle these adversities is different from Satan’s ways. You also need to be taught how to handle blessings in a way that is appropriate for a follower of Christ, for example, to celebrate a job promotion you would not go on a weekend drinking spree and you would not “lord it” over other people. You must give over your body to God so you can be one with the Father as Christ is one with Him.
Once we are growing more in tune with God through our hearts, minds, and bodies, then we will notice our spirit is becoming more in tune with His Holy Spirit. We find we are thinking and doing the things He wants us think and do because we give the Holy Spirit more rein in our lives. To be able to grow in these three areas, our spirits must become more in tune with the Holy Spirit.
As we come to love God more with our hearts, minds, strength, and soul, we will notice not only are we becoming more like Him, but we can discern what He wants us do and why. We can become more adept at discerning the mind of Christ. Once we are able to do this, we can see why God allows bad things to happen or why God is having us go through a desert experience right now. Not only will we be able to understand these things more, but we will be able to accept them knowing God has not left us or forsaken us. God is not far, but is growing us. Jesus explained to us in John 17:21 why these things occur, so we can become one with God just as He is one with the Father. God is answering Jesus’ prayer for His disciples. Are we at the point where we want to have Jesus’ prayer answered in our lives? This is a big step. It means giving up control to not only your heart, which you initially gave to God when you made a profession of faith, but to every part of yourself. Are you ready to do that? When you get to the point where you wonder if “this is all there is to it” then you are ready to grow on and have God answer Jesus’ prayer in your life. Jesus is still calling you. He does not stop when you become a believer. The question remains, are you going to follow His calling?