Belief in God is the first step

 

A belief in Jesus Christ as the son of God is the first step, the gateway into acquiring the mind of Christ(1 Corinthians 2:16), but it is not the end-all and be-all of the Christian journey. If we stop at this threshold of belief and never turn our lives over to Christ—the second step—we will never take the many steps of building a deeper and deeper relationship with Christ—the third part–which will transform us into the people God created us to be. If we take the second step of surrender or becoming born again and figure we know what to do now, we will never really attach ourselves to God and become the transformed, loving people he wants us to be.

Belief in Jesus Christ comes from the outside of us—from the church or the Bible or what others have told us. The deep relationship with God builds a body of knowing within us about who God is, how he feels about us, who we are in relationship to God, and how we are to relate to our fellow human beings and to our world.

Belief that leads to surrendering our lives to Christ or becoming born-again, belief that leads us to depend more and more on Christ in how to live our lives, that belief is constantly surrendering to what God is telling us in the here and now, belief that leads us to love God with all of our hearts, souls, minds and bodies—this is belief that transforms our lives. This belief is affirmed and shaped by the Indwelling Spirit of God.

Belief by itself is not enough. We need to live in our lives the love, the forgiveness, the deep humanity of our risen Lord. If we are still holding the same thoughts that we always held, if we’re still doing the same things in the same ways we have always done, we have not moved into the dynamic relationship with God. We have not allowed him to inform our thinking and transform and inspire our doing. We have held on to our own definition of who we are and of who God is.

Belief, surrender, transformation—these are the steps, all inspired by God which we have to be willing to go through so that we can realize our created purpose and give back to the world and to God all that we have been given. We must take each of these steps willingly, answering God’s calls.

The last step, transformation, means that we turn our lives—the problematic and the good in us—to God whose Spirit will heal us of all the trauma of our lives, of what we have done and what has been done to us. Only God knows what needs to be healed and in what order it needs to happen. I believe that we are too close to ourselves to have any perspective on what needs to be done and when.

These three steps mean that we go from being attached to the world and all its agendas and ways of doing things to being attached to God’s ways. As we go deeper and deeper into the relationship with God, we learn to think more broadly—and less like the world—about what is happening to us and others, more like God thinks. We learn to regard through the lens of our experience of him, not through what we’ve been taught about God. We learn to allow God to be who he is.

More and more of our soul gets revealed—the deeper, truer self—and affirmed. We become aware of what God is trying to say to us about all aspects of our lives. He is revealing more and more about our purpose and what he is calling us to do in this world. And as this happens, we learn to release anxiety, fear and anger, we learn to see what he is offering us as the best that could happen to us, and we begin to move into our created selves.

As we see our own limitations fall away, our vision grows more and more like Christ’s. We no longer see our own expectations, assumptions and preferences; we see God’s.

All of this depends on our willingness to go where God would take us, from belief to surrender and all the way down the road of transformation. At each step he is calling us to be more and more of who he created us to be. He is calling us not just to know he loves us, but to feel his love for us in every cell in our bodies. He is calling us to be his hands and feet and his voice in the world; he will show us how he wants us to be and do.

If we look at the created world, we see a lot of variety in the plants and animals, in the topography of the land, in the waters. Also in the people, their talents and gifts, their personalities, their choices in life. All were created by God. There are also tons of choices in how we read the Gospels of the New Testament and the Epistles. So many denominations, so many interpretations. One website which tracks how many denominations exist estimates there are over 30,000[1]. Now that number is inflated by how many countries there are in the world for each denomination, but still that might be more than 10,000.

Given the variety on this Earth and in the universe, who is to say that God doesn’t revel in the different interpretations his word inspires. That he isn’t saying/thinking, “Can you believe how the _____’s took that verse! Amazing!” Maybe it is only we humans who want the true interpretations so that we can be “right” about something and judge everyone else as wrong.

What is wrong about the church today is our infighting about we’re right and you’re all wrong. It is a turn-off for many people, for who is living what they believe when they are arguing or preaching about the “right beliefs?” Who is calling others on their “sin” and not admitting their own? Who has been cramming their beliefs down everyone else’s throats?

Everything we are on the inside shows on the outside. If we’re into having the right beliefs and preaching to everyone else to get them to adopt our beliefs, then we will be seen as arrogant and uncaring. If we’re deep into the relationship with God, and following what he calls us to do, you will exhibit humility. What master do we serve? The Lord or yourself/the world?

What happened to the one body of Jesus Christ? Aren’t we supposed to get along because of our beliefs in Jesus Christ, even when we disagree? Surely, we’re not arguing about whether he is the son of God, the most important thing. Isn’t the most essential thing that we do is to follow Jesus, to not just believe in him? Jesus often said, “Follow me.” And in John 14:1 he said believe in me. He did not detail those beliefs. He did not say—you all have to agree or else. To believe in him, to surrender to him and to follow him—these are the 1st, 2nd and 3rd steps that I have outlined above.

When we walk through all three steps, we find a real dependence on and trust in God. No matter what happens in our lives, we find a freedom to be who we were created to be by God. There is a real lightening of the burdens with Jesus’ help and a refining of our lives by the Holy Spirit. [Note the lack of self-determination.]  It is amazing, all that happens to us when we take those three steps: belief, surrender and transformation.

 

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Questions to ponder over the week: Where would I place myself in these three stages that define our journey with Christ—belief, surrender, transformed? What would I have to do to move into the next stage? What is holding me back? Or am I already enjoying being transformed by the Holy Spirit? Can I see the healing that is happening in my emotions, in my thinking, in my approach to God and other people?

 

Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who put God first in our lives, who devote ourselves with our hearts, souls, minds and strength. May we be the people of God who keep saying “Yes!” to God in everything he asks of us. May we experience the “new life” God is planting in us.

 

My book, “Thy Kingdom Come!” is up on Amazon. Check it out under my full name, Patricia Said Adams or Patricia Adams, if you’re interested. If you’ve already read it, I would love for you to post a rating or comment on Amazon or Good Reads–the ratings bring in readers.

 

Find out more about me at bythewaters.net  or on YouTube at By the Waters with Pat Adams three videos about the Exodus story or on Twitter at BTWwithPatAdams.

 

[1] http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/a106.htm 1.11.16

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