This prayer gives us a way to step back and to choose to be transformed to think differently and act differently than the rest of the world because we are followers of Jesus.
What made me different when I was growing up
“I remember back in the day…” This phrase has started a lot of conversations in my house. I was not always the instigator of such conversations. Sometimes my dad would start the conversation with that phrase and my teenagers would groan with their inward being. The stories I have related to my kids have sometimes been stories of my not being like everyone else.
A good example of that would be this: most kids went home and changed into clothes for playing. We wore certain school outfits, but when we got home we would put on clothes that could get dirty. More often than not, I would go home and not put on “play” clothes. I would put on “church” clothes. My mom and dad led the music for revival services 30- something weeks out of the year. My sister and I would often go with them. This made us different from everyone else in our school.
We were different. The life of a Christian is supposed to be different. How can we be Christians in a modern world that is little by little getting away from traditional Christian values? How can someone from the Millennial generation learn to be a Christian who is transformed by Christ and does not conform to the world?
One questions that will help you think in a new way about what you really want
I think that I can boil the summation down to one question. Think of something that you want. Do you want a girlfriend/boyfriend? Do you want a new car? Do you want money/fame/fortune? Whatever you can put down as the answer to any of these questions insert that answer into this question:
“Do you want (insert answer here) or do you want more of Jesus?”
I know some of my friends will not agree with me on this, but I do believe that this requires some delving into before being dismissed?
I believe that this question is one that anyone can ask themselves in any given situation. If you’re a guy and you’re about to go too far physically with a girl you are not yet married to, ask yourself that question. Do you want the momentary physical intimacy that is sinful outside of the bonds of marriage, or do you want more of Jesus?
How Paul Gave up his position in his old life for a much better new one
Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church:
“When I came to you, brothers, announcing the testimony of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. For I didn’t think it was a good idea to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a powerful demonstration by the Spirit, so that your faith might not be based on men’s wisdom but on God’s power.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5, HCSB)
Paul is talking about how his visit to the Corinthian church consisted of him passing along the knowledge of his personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the message of the Gospel of Christ…and that was it. There was a misunderstanding with the Corinthian church. Paul, originally known as “Saul”, was educated and knowledgeable in many things because he had been a man of prominence within the Jewish community in Jerusalem. Saul had his own posse of friends who followed him around because he was well known. He was “somebody” in that city.
Saul, before, encountering Christ on the road to Damascus, was a leading opponent of Christianity. He wanted to wipe Christianity from the face of the earth, and received permission from the Jewish faith leaders to do as he pleased.
Now as “Paul” this man lays aside all of the earthly titles and accolades given to him by the religious leaders and becomes humble in spirit. He didn’t give them all of the letters after his name, like so many people do today. He had been transformed and renewed in mind and spirit and this allowed him to be conformed to the mind of Christ which gave him the inspiration to preach a simple Gospel of Christ to the Corinthian church. He wanted no title, but wanted more of Jesus. He wanted no accolades for himself, but desired that all glory go to God.
Have we chosen Jesus over a title? Do we want to be commemorated by man or do we want to be acknowledged by Christ as a joint heir and fellow sufferer for the purpose of his Gospel?
Does any of this fit with today? Atheist and political groups are working at a fever pitch to get rid of any and all vestiges of Christianity in the modern world. They believe that if they can get rid of symbols, stop groups from meeting in public places, get the Bible banned everywhere that they will succeed in stamping out Christianity once and for all. What the critics don’t realize is that Saul already tried to do just that and failed to the point of becoming a follower of Christ. A contemporary example would be former journalist for the Chicago Tribune, Lee Strobel, whose quest to debunk Christianity once and for all took him on a journey straight to the empty tomb, and an encounter with Christ that Lee never expected.
Because of his background of attempting to dismantle Christianity, Paul had to make up some ground. He needed credibility. When he went to the Corinthians the only thing he had to offer was the Gospel of Christ. That information was all he would need, because Christ is enough.
Is Christ enough for you or are you pursuing other things?
That is my question to you, the reader of this article. Is Christ enough? Is he really what you are pursuing, or are you pursuing other things? What’s important to you: Having what you want or having a deep, personal, intimate relationship with the Creator of the world?
I’ve had to ask myself the question of “do I want whatever ‘this’ is, or do I want more of Christ” on several occasions since God posed this question to me.
What if you, the reader, posed this question to yourself before doing something that you may regret? What if you decided to take Jesus with you wherever you go?
Hear some encouraging words from the apostles Paul and Peter:
“I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery – Christ.” (Colossians 2:2, HCSB)
“Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith that comes from the Gospel.” (Philippians 1:27, HCSB)
“And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7, HCSB)
“Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13, HCSB)
Knowing Jesus better will distinguish you from the rest of the world
Coming to a better understanding of who Jesus is and who he wants you to be will create in you a transformation that will conform you to the mind of Christ. This will separate you from the rest of the world. It may separate you from your friends. Having the mind of Christ may separate you from your family. How far are you willing to go to know Jesus and his Gospel? I guarantee that knowing him deeper and deeper will transform you into someone you’ve never known, and people will either be drawn to you or will walk away.
For those who walk away, let them go. Let God deal with them. They may want the thing more than Jesus.
For those who draw closer to you, pull them in close and learn to do life and community with. They want Jesus more than the thing.
Pray for both.
Pray that all would come to know the Jesus who has transformed your heart and mind and allowed you to walk away from the conformity to the world.
Prayer to Let Your Life and Thoughts Be Transformed by Christ
“Jesus, draw us in closer to you. So many things compete for our attention. Let our hearts and minds be drawn to you so that in every moment we choose you. For those that walk away from you, please continue to be present in their lives. For those that want to draw closer to you let them see your glory and majesty, your kindness and your grace. In your name we pray, amen.”
Other helpful articles by David Shelton
Copyright David Shelton 2018. All rights reserved.