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Imagine with me that someone bought a whole bunch of bright red, crisp apples and tied them onto an apple tree. Everyone who casually walked by the tree would think, Wow, that tree looks great. See all of those apples? Unless of course they studied it carefully, they wouldn’t notice that the apples were just tied onto the branches. If you let some time go by though, anyone would be able to notice that the now-rotting and sour apples were not really a part of the tree.
Our Christianity can be like that apple tree. By knowing the appropriate behaviors, we can make our lives look so spiritual—our praying, our singing, our worshiping and our words. We can become satisfied with simply doing the right things and having the right doctrines. However, here is the problem: You and I can be right in our understanding and all our doctrines, yet be completely wrong on the inside.
Look at the Pharisees. They had everything right. They knew that God is holy. They knew all the laws. They were missionaries. They fasted. They gave. They prayed. They taught the Scriptures.
So what is the problem? Everything began and ended with them. God had no part in it. What God wants us to be goes beyond being right and doing all the right things before man. When you are just performing, Christ is still on the outside. Our “apples” should be produced from the tree. Who we are and what we do must start with the vine or our fruit will not last.
Our problem so often is that we want a plan. We want an agenda. We want a book to tell us step 1, 2, 3: “This is how to become godly.” But my brothers and sisters, godliness is not a list of how-tos; rather, it is the very life of Christ. How do we become godly? The answer is Jesus.
One of the senior leaders in our ministry told me about a man who had been aggressively pursuing the Lord over the past decade. This man made this statement: “All I want is to know Jesus. If someone comes and arrests me, puts me in jail, beats me or kills me, I have no problem. In all this, all I’m longing for is to know Jesus. He is the only thing that matters in my life.”
If we listen closely, we’ll hear the Lord calling out to our hearts, Be Mine. Let My life be yours.
Please, don’t look for a quick fix. This call from the Lord is a daily walking with Him, being sensitive to Him, seeking to hear His voice, seeking to do His will, wanting to please Him, loving Him through our choices. It is not obedience to the letter of the law but rather understanding the heart of our Master and making that our very life. This is not a fill-in-the-blank test, but a life consumed with Him, His thoughts, His wishes. It is a nonstop, living, alive, growing relationship with the Creator of this world.
My brothers and sisters, we must see Jesus—everywhere, in all of our life, in everything. Hebrews tells us, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2, niv).
Have you ever studied a car that was passing you, and all of a sudden without realizing it, you actually started to steer toward the passing car? The more you dwell on negative things, the more negative you become. The more you dwell on positive thoughts, the more positive you become. The more time you spend with someone, the more you actually take on their mannerisms and vocabulary without even trying.
We are called to be partakers of His nature (see 2 Peter 1:4). How do we do that? We see Jesus. Scripture says that when we see Him, we will be like Him (see 1 John 3:2). Just like the passing car, the thoughts we entertain, and the people we spend time with—if we look at Jesus and keep Him before us, we will go to Him. We will become like Him. The measure in which we’re able to see Him continually in all our circumstances, in the same measure we will experience Him and His life through us.
In my own life, there was a particular time when I was going through great difficulty. In the midst of that season, the Lord asked me the question: “Are you willing to give up your reputation?” Then I said to myself, Oh my goodness! He is the One who didn’t care what people thought about Him. He didn’t defend Himself when people said all kinds of evil about Him. He’s asking me if I’m willing to identify with Him and have His nature in me. And I said back to Him, “Lord, I didn’t see this before. I’m happy to do it.” Then I was able to find such peace and release from my personal anguish.
Look for Him in your own situations that you are facing right now. Listen to the things He speaks to your heart. Look at His life on earth and consider what it was like for Him. Look for Him in His Word. If we see Him in every part of our lives, we will become like Him.
We will have His attitude toward the Father that says: “I do nothing of Myself” (John 8:28) and “I say whatever the Father tells me to say” (John 12:50, nlt). We will walk in the humility that yields our rights for others and is respectful toward those He created. We’ll have His mind to suffer and not be fearful of it. We will manifest His passion to seek and save the lost.
If you have ever read books by Madame Guyon, Andrew Murray, Amy Carmichael, Brother Lawrence, John Hyde, Bakht Singh or Sadu Sundar Singh, you’ll find people marked by the nature of Christ. What they write is not just doctrines and theses. Their writings are magnets that pull us to Jesus. There is something about their life so sweet, so precious, so gentle, so humble, so other world. And our hearts in turn say, I want to be like this person. They are saturated with the aroma of the gentle, meek, victorious Jesus.
This is the kind of life Christ wants for us. It is a journey. We won’t get there tomorrow or the next, but each day as we see Him, we will become more like Him.
Will you seek Him out today? He promises that you will find Him.