Wednesday, January 14, 2015
The purpose of living a WWJD life...
"In your lives you must think and act like Jesus." --Philippians 2:5
I love it when Bible verses I have read hundreds of times over the years suddenly mean something new to me! I read the verse above this morning, and also Mark 8:34-35 where Jesus tells his disciples and followers to take up their cross and follow him. I had a new thought...God doesn't want us to act like Jesus so we can get into heaven. Well, that's not so new, is it? I know we can't EARN our way into heaven. However, I guess I always understood that if I wanted to go to heaven, I needed to act like Jesus. If I believe, and I do, that if you BELIEVE that Jesus is the Son of God and take him as your personal Savior, THEN you will have eternal life. (John 3:16) So, why then is it so important for us to think and act like Jesus?
Everyone who knows me well knows that I am a people pleaser. I like to make people happy and I hate disappointing anyone, even people I don't really know. The results of this character trait have been both positive and negative.
One the plus side, I am a peace-loving person and often find myself working very hard to bring peaceful solutions to most problems, whether they are my problems or not. Jesus said, "Blessed are the peace makers," right? I also find joy in making people's day, either by saying or doing something special for them or by doing a task that would help them. Because I don't want to let anyone down, I find myself trying very hard at most things I attempt. This has made me very proficient at many things. Hard work and effort can make even someone with limited talent successful.
However, on the negative side, if the motivation for doing these things is purely to make others happy, it becomes more about me, my pride, vanity and self-esteem. I want to be liked by everyone so I work hard to succeed so people will like me. That's kind of a messed up way of thinking. While being a peace maker is a good thing, I seem to have developed a "savior complex," thinking it is my responsibility to solve everyone's problems. Who am I to think I can do that for everyone around me?
All of this self-assessment is a good thing and it is making me realize that God loves me just the way I am! I don't have to please him to CAUSE or MAKE him love me. It doesn't matter if I am the best Christian or the worst sinner, God loves me anyway!
The thing is, while he loves me any way that I am, he cares about me too much to leave me the way that I am. That's why he encourages us to be like Jesus! That's why Jesus said we are to take up our cross and follow him. He is perfect; he is our example. Even though we will never reach his level of perfection, if we are striving to be like him and living the way he would, especially when we remember how important LOVING OTHERS was to him, we are bound to live a better life.
Living a WWJD life is not about earning our way to heaven. It's about living this crazy, exciting, difficult and sometimes disappointing life on earth the way Jesus would so we are happier and the world is a better place. There will always be problems and difficulties in this life, but if we try to handle those problems the way Jesus would, God will bless our efforts. he knows that living a Christ-like life will make us better.
This way of thinking reassures me and gives me hope and gives me a desire to be more like Jesus - not because I don't want to disappoint God, but because I want to give back to the God who loves me so!