The first thing for anyone interested in becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is to understand that Jesus does not require anything that you don’t already have. He does not insist that you be smart enough to read the Word for yourself. He wrote nothing. He does not require you to connect the dots with everything you hear and see, only to pay attention and give room for the Holy Spirit in your heart to make sense of it. He does not want to see your “good works” first or force you to get cleaned up first. You may be the worst scum-bucket the world has ever seen; a moron in spades, and all Jesus will say is “Okay, let’s begin.”
There is nothing needed to start. There is nothing lacking in your package as God made you.
To put it another way, you can already do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before your God. You have already tasted the fruit God wants you to grow: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentle-kindness, faithfulness, humility and self-control. You might not be very strong in these things or very good at them, but you are not a stranger to them. You have the tools.
You see, you and I were made in the image of the creator, and though that image of God has become corrupted, that truth has not ceased to be true. And here is ONE key to discipleship: that in this way, God intends to restructure us from the inside-out, to reorder our priorities, to make us more like him.
“I will be satisfied when I awake with your likeness,” Job said. Paul wrote to the Colossians, “you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator”
This is not a new concept. Jesus wants us to be more like him. Discipleship is meant to accomplish this. You see, once upon a time, before TV and movies and everyone reading books and novels, before sports stars and rock stars and the millions of images and people that kids can emulate these days, children wanted to grow up to be like their parents. Sons learned from and imitated Dad and daughters imitated Mom and learned from her. So disciples, like children as Paul often says, are to imitate God. Follow Jesus around and learn from him. Be his sheep and let him be your shepherd and transform you into inheritors of the kingdom.
Of course, we are not going to become like him in power and majesty, but in every way that matters, love, forgiveness, mercy, justice, joy, we are. Only our alignment with these things is so off kilter and our perception of life, the universe and everything is so distorted by sin, it is going to take some radical work.
This is the renewing of the mind. It is putting on the nature of Christ. It is God’s desire and intention to change us from the inside-out, and the result will be like that old English hymn—the one Cornwallis played at Yorktown—The World Turned Upside-Down.
So let your worldview be turned upside-down and your image be changed into the image of Christ. Renew your mind which in Paul’s day meant thoughts AND feelings. Yes, despite what many psychologists suggest, feelings are not sacrosanct. Feelings are decided, like faith, but that will have to wait until the next post.