Conformed to the Image of Jesus

Much of this week’s devotional is from Invitation to the Jesus Life by Jan Johnson.

Monday – John 15.5-8. What if our role in being conformed to Christ is not to try harder? Not to pull ourselves up by the boot straps or to whip ourselves into shape? But to… “Take care to live in me, and let me live in you” (TLB). That’s the invitation. We do the connecting (with God), and God does the perfecting (in our behavior). The catch is that we must first become willing to do whatever we need to do to connect with God, and we have to want it more than we want anything else. Today’s prayer: Lord, teach me to want. Ask: What am I willing to do to make connection with God possible?

Tuesday – Ezekiel 36.26-28. God has designed transformation to be from the inside out. Dallas Willard says we “nourish ourselves on the person of God.” This causes us to change inwardly first. We have problems with obedience when we try to change our outward behavior only because we need to be transformed in our hearts−we behave according to what’s in our hearts. The inner life of the soul must be transformed so we “become the kind of person from whom good deeds naturally flow.” Begin your day by spending 5 minutes of silence, connecting with your Father.

Wednesday – Mark 10.17-22. Jesus looked at him and loved him (vs 21). What does that expression look like to you? Close your eyes and imagine what it feels like to be gazed upon and loved so well. Sit a moment in this scene and absorb it. Realize that Jesus looks at you and loves you. Then hear Jesus’s words, “One thing you lack…” As we encounter the living God and experience His love and goodness for us, we are then able to hear his correction. Today, give God permission to say difficult truths to you. Know that Jesus looks at you and loves you while he says it to you.

Thursday – John 15.9-15. Jesus calls us friend. What a radical idea. Not servant or slave, but friend. One of the great mysteries of God is that he really loves us, indeed likes us, and invites us to be his very own friend. Many times we think of God’s invitation to share in his life as a contract: If I do “A”, God will do “B.” In doing this we miss out on the real thing−the life of God’s own self. Jesus would have none of this formula-approach to life, but rather showed us a relationship of mutual abiding. Today’s prayer: Father, forgive me for robbing myself of you for too long. Teach me to abide.

Friday – Matthew 28.16-20. As Jesus left this earth he parted with these words: I am with you always. Jesus began his earthly ministry with relationships. Jesus chose 12 to “be with” as he taught, walked, and healed. Besides being in training, the disciples did life with Jesus: eating, traveling, and visiting friends. And in the same way, Jesus wants to be with us−to walk and talk and eat and share his life. Not just on Sundays or during our morning devotions, but in our life. Reflect on what it would look like to practice the presence of God throughout your day.

Saturday – 1 Timothy 4.7; Philippians 1.6. To facilitate this life with God, we become willing to do whatever we need to do to connect with God. As we connect with God, we change. When we put our effort into whatever it takes to help us connect with God, we quite naturally do good things without thinking about them. In such “accidental obedience,” we obey out of a personal connection with God, not because we order ourselves to do it. The distinction of where to put the effort is crucial−not in trying to be good but in connecting with Jesus himself. What spiritual practice could you do or continue that best helps you connect to God?