I am called to live in perfect relation to God so that my life produces a longing after God in other lives, not admiration for myself. Thoughts about myself hinder my usefulness to God. God is not after perfecting me to be a specimen in His show-room; He is getting me to the place where He can us me. Let Him do what He likes.
These are the concluding sentences of the devotional for today from My Utmost For His Highest. The whole reading is along this line and is really convicting me in a number of ways. I want to respond properly to God's convictions so that I can better reflect Him and be the kind of Christian that is described here.
The past few days I have been experiencing some strange feelings, things stirred up from the past that are coming back to haunt me. I sense that God is allowing some things to happen that stir up some strong and negative emotions inside of me so that I can be in a position to receive more thorough healing from Him. I am eager to do that though not as eager to have to go through the pain and embarrassment of experiencing immature emotions and feelings that have been suppressed for many years. But if that is what it takes I want to cooperate with God's plans to mature me.
In the context of some current situations that are very irritating to me, I am trying to relate to them differently than the typical reactions I am used to experiencing. Of course that is not easy. It is always easier to just react the way I am used to feeling when triggered by such things. But I am tired of my immaturity in certain areas of my life; tired of misrepresenting God and not allowing Him full access to transform me in these kinds of situations; tired of going around the same circle of problems again and again like the Children of Israel going round and round in the desert complaining about everything and everyone while dying all the time. I want to grow up, to get even more serious about God, to experience much greater maturity and the blessings and privileges that come with doing so.
I want to have a life that is less self-absorbed and much more focused on blessing and helping and caring for others. That is easy to say and for many it seems like a no-brainer – just do it! Right? Well, I have been told that all of my life in one way or another but it just does not work that way. I decided many years ago that if I am going to be a Christian I want to be a real one; and that means that I need to have the inside changed first. I am tired of pretend Christianity. There are plenty of those around already and I have played that game too much myself. I want the real deal and I am not resting satisfied until I have it.
What I have sensed and heard is that the real deal is when Jesus lives so richly inside of my heart that I find myself compulsively blessing others above myself, responding to the needs of others before my own, reacting to insults and threats with a spirit of forgiveness and kindness – and all of this from my heart, not just something I make myself do. Those are not things that I can train myself to do in order to become a Christian; those are things that will be seen in my life as a result of seeing those things clearly in the way God relates to me. By beholding I become changed – not by trying harder.
Here is the full text of the quote above with my highlights.
It is a snare to imagine that God wants to make us perfect specimens of what He can do; God’s purpose is to make us one with Himself. The emphasis of holiness movements is apt to be that God is producing specimens of holiness to put in His museum. If you go off on this idea of personal holiness, the dead-set of your life will not be for God, but for what you call the manifestation of God in your life. ‘It can never be God’s will that I should be sick,’ you say. If it was God’s will to bruise His own Son, why should He not bruise you? The thing that tells for God is not your relevant consistency to an idea of what a saint should be, but your real vital relation to Jesus Christ, and your abandonment to Him whether you are well or ill.
Christian perfection is not, and never can be, human perfection. Christian perfection is the perfection of a relationship to God which shows itself amid the irrelevancies of human life. When you obey the call of Jesus Christ, the first thing that strikes you is the irrelevancy of the things you have to do, and the next thing that strikes you is the fact that other people seem to be living perfectly consistent lives. Such lives are apt to leave you with the idea that God is unnecessary, by human effort and devotion we can reach the standard God wants. In a fallen world this can never be done. I am called to live in perfect relation to God so that my life produces a longing after God in other lives, not admiration for myself. Thoughts about myself hinder my usefulness to God. God is not after perfecting me to be a specimen in His show-room; He is getting me to the place where He can us me. Let Him do what He likes.