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Less of Me, More of Jesus
My natural bent when I read through scripture can be very works based. I think this is the case for a lot of us. The message of the Gospel that grace has saved us is amazing and overwhelming, but if I’m honest, I resonate more with the call to action that often comes after. I often times breeze past passages of scripture that talk about what Jesus did for us and hyper focus on what my response should be. It seems so practical! I believe all these truths about what Jesus did for me, so now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, what should my life look like? And don’t get me wrong, I think that is sometimes motivated by such an excitement about what God has done that I feel compelled to be a part of that story. If you believe those truths about the Gospel, how could you not want to be part of it? So often I feel motivated to act, excited to be part of His story in the world, and I desire to thank him through my actions. But a lot of the time I am focusing too much on myself and not enough on the power and authority of Jesus. As I read Ephesians 4, there is no doubt in my mind that Paul is saying that our lives should look different if we follow Jesus; however, I need to pause and remind myself that my life looks different because of what He has done, not what I can do.
The start of Ephesians 4 resonates with me because Paul starts this section of the text with “Therefore”. He is basically saying, if you believe all the things I just laid out about who Jesus is and what he has done for us in chapters 1-3, then this is what your response should be. Passages like this get me excited! But, I always try to be careful when I find myself feeling extra motivated to go out, be a better person, try a little harder, and muster up some extra dose of Jesus-like behavior today. When I find myself in that headspace I know I will fail because I, as a human, am trying to do the impossible. I am arrogant enough to think that I can be supernaturally humble, patient, gentle, or loving on my own. Can I be kinda patient sometimes, somewhat humble, and my own version of loving towards someone today? Sure! But, will it be a supernatural, Jesus-like love that truly transforms and brings life? Not if it comes from within myself.
Paul calls us to “lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making ever effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). If I believe that the Gospel is true, this should be my response; however, in the same way this cannot be my response unless it is the Holy Spirit doing these things in and through me. I cannot separate them. They must go together. The Gospel is not just truth, it is transformational. It is not transformational unless it is true.
So, as I engage in chapter 4 of Ephesians, I remind myself that as much as I want to be more like Christ, I need the Holy Spirit to do that work in me. I need to be so connected to the vine that I start to look like Christ because I am constantly with Him and actually believe that the Holy Spirit can and will make me more like Jesus.
“For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:21-24).