In view of the fact that all these things are to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be? Surely men of good and holy character, who live expecting and earnestly longing for the coming of the day of God. (2 Peter 3:11-12, JBP)
"In view of these things, what kind of people ought we to be?" What a great question. Since everything we see will one day be destroyed, what kind of life do we want Jesus to find us living when he returns? Let your heart and mind--and soul--run with that one for a while. What is the life you most deeply long to live? The life that makes you the best version of who you were dreamt to be. And notice that is says what kind of people ought we to be, rather than what kinds of things ought we to do. It is a question aimed at our depths, not at our surface.
The first words that come to mind for me are: passionate, loving, peaceful, selfless, and diligent. And after looking at my list I guess I could've just written down the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 and been done with it. But these are the first things that bubble to the surface of my heart and soul.
First, I want to live passionately. I want my passion for Jesus, and my passion for his kingdom, to be the thing that determines the content of my days and the quality of my life. I want to live with an excitement, anticipation, and intensity about my life with him and for him, instead of living with a constant sense of frustration (which is most often directed at myself).
Next, I want to be loving. I want love to be the thing that compels me, the way Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 5:14. I don't want to be motivated and controlled and compelled by a constant sense of fear, or anxiety, or insecurity, or self-centeredness. I do not want to be self-consumed, I want to be God-consumed.
I also want to live a life of peace, and be a person of peace. I want to have a constant sense of harmony within myself, not disharmony or discord. I want to be whole, and to seek wholeness in my own heart and soul, as well as in my life and in my relationships. I do not want to be contentious, or insecure, or competitive. Instead, I want to have the same heart as Jesus, a heart that frees me to be compassionate and caring.
And finally, I want to be diligent. I do not want to be lethargic, or lackadaisical, or lukewarm, or passive, or lazy in my faith, in my life, in my marriage, in my family, in my vocation, or in my relationships with others. I want to be intentional and engaged on a regular basis, and that takes work.
So how in the world can I be all of those things? How do I become the man I long to be? I guess I could just try real hard. But if you are like me you've been down that road before, and it is a dead end street. In a matter of days or weeks--or in some cases hours or minutes--you end up right where you were before: frustrated, defeated, and disheartened. The problem is that we can't behave ourselves into holiness, we can only be captured into holiness (Watch and Wait, p 37). Therefore, the first (and maybe only) step in the process of transformation is to be totally and completely captured by the great affection of our God, and pulled into this life of delight, rather than somehow trying to push ourselves into it through guilt or shame. We have to make time and space to be with God, to listen to his whispers of delight, to sense the fullness of his embrace, and to be captured by the wild passion of his love. That is how transformation happens. That is how we become the men and women he intended us to be. Let us take a step--no matter how small of how large--in that direction this very day.
Lord Jesus, help me to make time and space in my life today to be captured by the power of your great affection. For only then do I have any hope of being the man you long for me to be when you come again. Amen.