An intro to Living Like Jesus is Real - what does it actually mean?
For most of this ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, there have been a few habits I haven’t been able to shake: an unhealthy addiction to Merge Dragons; adding the term “socially-distanced of course” to literally every gathering I spoke about (that one’s calmed down a bit now, praise the Lord); and musing over the question ‘Am I living like Jesus is real?’
For most Christians, we’d answer that last one with “Obviously!” straight away and then proceed to endlessly list all the things we “do” for Jesus. I know, how sacrificial are we!?
But, as you may know, Jesus warned us that despite how things may look on the surface, some of us don’t really know Him. We may know the things to do to make it look like we know Him, we may have occasional moments of intimacy with Him, but on the whole we’re just trying our best to be “good” Christians.
The goal isn’t to be a good Christian. I don’t even know what “good Christian” means. Didn’t Jesus say that God is the only one who is good anyway?
Instead, after much musing, I think this is the goal: living like Jesus is real. It encompasses all aspects of our lives: the decisions we make; the ways we react; how we interact with ourselves and others; and, how we do the things we do. When we do all of this from a place of living like Jesus is real, we have no choice but to also live in His strength – after all, we’re living like He is real.
This breaks us free from the trap that we can all fall into: living life in our own strength. It’s how burnout happens, how resentment creeps in, and how we become works-based.
Maybe an example will help? Here is a “life in the day of a Christian trying to be good” (but not actually Living Like Jesus is Real):
You wake up: earlier than you’d hoped, if you have kids, later than you’d planned if you don’t. You know that a good Christian always reads their Bible. Apparently, the best time to read is in the morning, that’s when all the best Christians read their Bibles, and it has to include: a cup of coffee - ethically sourced and environmentally-sustainable, obviously – highlighters; post-it notes; a candle, even though it isn’t dark; your regular Bible; a study-Bible; worship music in the background – instrumental, otherwise you’ll start singing along – and, finally, absolutely no distractions. This is obviously a most-unattainable feat on any normal day and so you quickly become discouraged, read the verse of the day on the Bible app, and scroll on Instagram until you’re late for work.
You haven’t actually acknowledged Jesus yet; you were just trying to be a good Christian.
Fast forward to work – however that looks for you, employment or looking after the family – and you see “that person”. The one who wronged you 6 months ago and inside you’re still seething about it. You don’t work on the issue or confront them though – you’re a good Christian, remember? You’ll keep that one tucked away for when you need it.
You remember that it’s the last day of the month – payday. Great! You know you made it your aim to be a good Christian and give 10% of it to church but you over-indulged last month to fit in and so you promise yourself you’ll be generous next month instead.
Now you’re back home. There’s a topic of conversation you’ve been avoiding that threatens to rear its head so you lie to your spouse/friend/roommate and deftly sidestep your way past actually revealing how things are going for you. You’re a good Christian – good Christians don’t have problems, they have Jesus.
Permission to pause: I’ve been deliberately antagonistic but there’s no judgement here, just compassion. I can see myself in those paragraphs too. And really, not all we set out to achieve is bad. Reading your Bible is obviously a good thing. The problem is that we set out to do all of these things in our own strength, usually with the wrong motives (to be a good Christian, to earn God’s love, to look like we have it all together), and most of the time it just leads to discouragement. Perpetuating the cycle. We’re discouraged, so we try even harder.
But trying harder isn’t the way forward. We can try as hard as we possibly can every day for the rest of our lives and we still won’t find what we’re looking for. Intimacy with Jesus, peace and contentment despite our circumstances, a legacy of love, cannot be achieved through striving. This kind of transformation can only take place by the power of the Holy Spirit. When we walk with Him as He continues to work on our hearts, we will be living a little bit more like Jesus is Real with every step.
So join me, as we move from a life of striving to a life of Living Like Jesus is Real.
Follow my blog as we explore lots of areas where we can actively live like Jesus is Real - forgiving like Jesus is Real, praying like Jesus is Real, choosing like Jesus is Real, thinking like Jesus is Real...you get the picture.
Until then my friend,