I’m Done With Living Like a Christian

I’m Done With Living Like a Christian July 25, 2011
© “I’m Done With Living Like a Christian” | 2011, Kurt Willems

Something happened last week.  I went on a retreat with an amazing spiritual director / teacher named Jan Johnson.  By the end of our time together I realized that I’m done with living like a Christian.

  • I’m done serving the poor.
  • I’m done going the extra mile.
  • I’m done being a husband who strives to love his wife as Christ loves the church.
  • I’m done visiting the sick.
  • I’m done opening up my life to Christian community.
  • I’m done loving my neighbor.
  • I’m done living with integrity.
  • I’m done loving my enemies.
  • I’m done giving finances to global causes.
  • I’m done opposing violence.
  • I’m done speaking out against hatred.
  • I’m done standing up for the marginalized.
  • I’m D-O-N-E done…

This past week made me realize that doing all these things won’t change the world.  That’s because the world can’t be changed unless God changes me.

For the past several years, ups and downs defined my spiritual life.  Moments in the journey were some of the most intimate encounters with Jesus that I’ve known.  Real (nearly tangible) experiences, that can’t be explained by anything but the power of the Holy Spirit, took place. Other moments, when I showed love to a neighbor, prayed for an enemy, served the poor… these were times when Jesus was right there with me.

Then there were the times when I got stuck trying to live like Jesus.  In the Christian world we call these “good works” or “ethics.”  I made my aim “doing” rather than “being.” By “doing” I believed that my “being” would be consumed by an experience of the life of God.  Unfortunately, the God encounters often fade when all my time is spent “doing” or theorizing about such “doing.”

For me, it’s time to stop doing.  It’s time to simply be done.  Done “doing” because the Holy Spirit invites us to stop and to “be.”

  • To be the kind of person who serves the poor.
  • Be the kind of person who goes the extra mile.
  • Be the kind of person who is an awesome self-giving husband.
  • Be the kind of person who visits the sick.
  • Be the kind of person who opens my life up to Christian community.
  • Be the kind of person who loves my neighbor.
  • Be the kind of person who chooses integrity.
  • Be the kind of person who loves enemies.
  • Be the kind of person who gives generously to global causes.
  • Be the kind of person who responds to evil with creative nonviolence.
  • Be the kind of person who not only speaks out against hatred, but who suffers for the sake of the hated.
  • Be the kind of person who stands in the margins with those who’ve been placed there by society (and even the church).
  • I want to BE, and in the process, become a different kind of follower of Jesus.

Why the distinction?  It’s easy to follow the Sermon on the Mount and other ethical teachings of Jesus and to miss the Christ who taught such things. Dallas Willard puts it this way:

Jesus never expected us simply to turn the other cheek, go the second mile, bless those who persecute us, give unto them that ask, and so forth.  These responses, generally and rightly understood to be characteristic of Chrsitlikeness, were put forth by him as illustrative of what might be expected of a new kind of person – one who intelligently and steadfastly seeks, above all else, to live within the rule of God and be possessed by the kind of righteousness that God himself has, as Matthew 6:33 portrays.  Instead, Jesus did invite people to follow him into that sort of life from which behavior such as loving one’s enemies will seem like the only sensible and happy thing to do.  For a person living that life, the hard thing to do would be to hate the enemy, to turn the supplicant away, or to curse the curser…  True Christlikeness, true companionship with Christ, comes at the point where it is hard not to respond as he would.[1]

So, yes, I’m done with living like a Christian.  I’m trading that in for living in a deeper relationship with Christ.  I want to know Jesus.  I want to hear Jesus.  I want to be empowered by Jesus.  Not simply in theory as I do the good things that he calls us to do, but as the natural outflow of intimacy with God.  The former way “gets the job done.”  The latter way changes the world.

For me, this means a new-found intentionality of placing myself in a position to hear from the Spirit.  Spiritual practices like – solitude, Sabbath, lectio divina, silence, confession, prayer, and practicing the presence of God – these neglected areas of my life have led to a Christianity defined by “doing” rather than “being.”

My prayer for us is that our intimate relationships with Christ would make it impossible to not respond with the ethics marked out by the Kingdom of God.  Not out of effort to do good things, but out of our efforts to know Jesus Christ through an awareness of the presence of God’s Spirit.  When this becomes normative, we won’t be able to help it… we will just start looking like Jesus.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Inspired. Inspired. Inspired

  • This is exactly the train of thought I’ve been on lately, Kurt.  Did you hear Greg Boyd’s sermon last week?  “The Who and the Do” speaks to this conflict between what we do and who we are.

    • @facebook-1450206774:disqus , I have not caught up on Greg’s podcast yet, but thats sounds like a great incentive to do so.  Thanks for reading and for your thoughts!

      • Conrad

        you should kurt… the last few weeks have been excellent!

  • Holy sh*t, me too!

    • @tmamone:disqus , I always love your comments!

      •  But seriously, this is something I struggle with a lot.  I’m so wrapped up in trying to do good that it because Law.  Even my conservative friends say I shouldn’t worry so much about doing good deeds!

  • “All things came into being through him, and
    without him not one thing came into being.”
    One of my regular repeats is how we are called into being, not called into doing!

  • Excellent post brother! Hopefully Christians are getting tired of “playing church”. Blessings to you and yours!

  • Megan

    I’m glad your trip went well 🙂

  • I guess my question to this is: How can you be the kind of person who serves the poor unless you actually go serve the poor? I am of the impression that we behave ourselves into a new way of thinking and being. Now, don’t get me wrong, I would love for you to achieve that goal. It sounds great. But I am not sure how spiritual practices without action are going to achieve it.

    • @Ben Emerson , you certainly should go serve the poor.  But Christ cares about our interior life as much as our exterior actions.  Serving the poor will become like second nature when we know the intimacy of Jesus… who became poor for our sake.  Think of this… I can believe that serving others sacrificially is theologically what I am supposed to do.  I can even go and serve the poor based on that belief… which is wonderful.  But, there is something much more wonderful about a deep knowing of the heart of God by actually engaging in relationship with him intentionally that will lead to a deeper love for the poor and marginalized.  Belief that leads to action is good… Transformation of our being that leads to action will change the cosmos!

  • Great stuff – I am preaching through Ephesians and was in verses 11 and 12 yesterday.  Dealing with the issue of God’s “will” in verse 11, I explained that it meant His desire, His heart, that we would accept and be a part of His great plan that is explained in the first 14 verses, revolving around the phrase “in Him”.  His desire is that we are less “like Christ” since that puts the emphasis on us, and more “Christ like” since that puts the emphasis on Christ.

  • Outstanding post! Yes, we must first be genuinely changed from the inside before we genuinely reflect Christ on the outside. The following passage below supports this principle. It’s also a tad bit frightening to me at times. Am I just doing or am I genuinely changed?

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:21-23)

  • Theophile

    Sorry: “be unto others as You would have them be unto You”  isn’t what Christ said.
     He did say behold I come quickly and my reward is with me to give unto every man
    according to their work.
    Sorry for the case returns but there is a immovable ad blocking the comment box.

    • @3bbafbe0d0c3dd6e22c2d7d1746afec8:disqus , the ad / comment issue is being worked on as we speak.

  • I used to have a professor that would say, “You must be before you can do. God must do a work in you before he will do a work through. Ministry is always the result of the overflow (of God’s work in you).”

  • Garrett Zajac

    I think that your severance between being and act is untenable, as if one is not an index of the other or doesn’t even inform the other.  Rather, being is act; act is being in time. Your article conveys the image of an electric car that is either plugged into the wall and receiving energy, or driving around and ever winding down.  “it’s time to start being”, you say; But act has historically been the means of becoming more like Christ.  Liturgy–the work of the body–is fundamentally an exercise in changing one’s being.  We say the creed, confess our sins, take the eucharist, in order to be the Church.  these were fundamentally educational acts put in place in order to train us to be more like Christ.    This is basic virtue theory.  Furthermore, Christ’s being was not severed from act.  what it means to be God is not separate from what God did and does.  In Christ’s very being was his incarnation, death, and resurrection.  

    “For me, this means a new-found intentionality of placing myself in a position to hear from the Spirit.  Spiritual practices like – solitude, Sabbath, lectio divina, silence, confession, prayer, and practicing the presence of God – these neglected areas of my life have led to a Christianity defined by “doing” rather than “being.'”    – how are these things not an emphasis on doing?  what makes you 
    think that prayer is any different than taking in the poor?  in the former, God hears our prayer,
    and in the latter, God sees it.  But in both cases, you are becoming more like Christ.

    • Ian

      I think you miss understand him. To use your electric car analogy he wants to move from the kind car than only runs to the kind of car that focuses on charging itself up so that it can run.

  • I’d still prefer a surgeon who practiced before she did surgery on me.  I’d say that the doing, the daily practice,  matters as well.

  • Love your post.  Reminds me of the words of one of my mentors, who would remind me that we were human BE-ings not human DO-ings.

  • Lancelinderman

    Great post and so true!  The more we know Jesus, the more we are Jesus to the world. 
    This comes naturally.  In the same way that Jesus didn’t force the Kingdom into our hearts, we
    cannot force the Kingdom out of us into others’ hearts.  When we try to we fail miserably and
    give people ourselves instead of giving them God.  We have to remember that only Jesus can
    change peoples forevers, not us.  It reminds me of Watchmen Nee, 
    ” It is a grief to the heart of God… when we try to do things for him, for hie is so very, very able. 
    He longs that we will just let him do and do and do.  He wants to be the Giver eternally, and he
     wants to be the Doer eternally.  If only we saw how rich and how great he is, we would leave all
    the giving and all the doing to him. 
    Do you think that if you cease trying to please God your good behavior will cease?  If you leave
    all the giving and all the working to God, do you think the result will be less satisfactory than if
    you do some of it? ” 
    By the way… send me your info on facebook so that I can pass it on to Josh Riebock. 

  • My take on this sort of thing goes something like this: we do the things a follower of Jesus ought to do, because in doing them we learn to be the kind of person who does those things. In other words, the only way to learn to follow Jesus is to actually follow Jesus.

    • @JasonBarr:disqus , I agree to a point except you miss one thing… You cant actually follow someone that you don’t know.

      • I will certainly not argue with that. 🙂

  • Posted a similar article on my blog just last week:  http://www.richarddahlstrom.com/2011/07/18/disengage-from-the-culture-and-dont-change-the-world-change-yourself/   because real transformation of the world starts with our own human heart.  Thanks Kurt!  

  • Sabine

    I’ve often thought of this, especially considering the emphasis on “abide” or “remain” in John 15:1-8. Also,  it is exactly for this reason, the being, that all humans should be treated with equal dignity, no matter their ability to get things done. Disabled, elderly, the very young, etc.

  • Curious. IMO, it isn’t an either/or situation.  According to John Wesley, doing good works can in fact be a means of grace; i.e. a way for God to change us.  That said, I’m glad there are some cloistered monastics praying for those out in the trenches – and  visa versa.

    • Moreover, one meets Jesus rather readily when
      one is in ministry to and with poor, broken people. That’s a great way
      to get to know Jesus IMO.

      • This isn’t an either or dichotomy.  Rather, its in “being” that we “do” things with greater significance and empowerment.  Our Doing needs our Being and our Being needs our doing.  Its simply a need to re-orientate ourselves of knowing Christ through the disciplines, etc so that we can do justice, mercy, and love.

  • Anonymous

    Wow. Yes. Right there with you. 

  • Ian

    It seems that people are thinking that you mean it’s either “I pray or I work” which I think was not your intention. It’s obvious that your talking about living in a state of rest.
    Give Hebrews 4:1-11 a good read. Puts a little light on how we can do that.

  • Katie Sturm

    Kurt – this is a great post, and I would encourage you even more to respond to the Spirit moving in and through you. I would probably use different language, as I’ve become more involved in the charismatic movement – the word that works best for me is “Surrender.” 
    The act of surrender is this beautiful place of obedience to the strange and unusual calls of God (who, after all invites his followers to marry prostitutes, buy random plots of land and break all the dietary rules of kashrut) in which we allow ourselves to trust who He is more than we trust what we can do or who we are. When we can let go of ourselves enough to allow the life-giving, life-transforming, and resurrecting power of the Holy Spirit to guide us in everything (instead of the things we think we should do or limiting the presence of the Holy Spirit to simply enlightening our Bible reading) – there is nothing that is impossible for Him.
    Thanks for the great reading today!

  • Fantastic! Would you mind if I translated this to Swedish to post on my blog?

    With regards,
    Johan Borg

  • I’ve thought about this a lot. As someone who’s a self-professed lazy Christian
    (http://www.thelazychristian.com), I’ve realized that if I hope for the “doing” to kick in,
    I’ll never get anything done. It’s so much more convenient to do those things without trying—
    to just be more like Christ. If only I’d always known how easy it was! Heavens.

  • Rick Morley

    I really like what you have to say, Kurt. I’d just say that it’s probably not either/or, but both/and. When you get ‘stuck’ just doing, it’s time to start being. And when you’re ‘stuck’ being, it’s time to get busy and start doing. The reason that your post strikes a chord is that as humans we’re generally far more comfortable being do-ers than being be-ers. (that’s awkward…on an anabaptist blog…)

    Anyway, thanks!

  • Good post.  A number of years ago, I came up with an illustration that sort of puts it in perspective….    You’ve got a teenager that hangs around Dad’s house, does lots of chores in order to keep on Dad’s good side, but he won’t actually spend time hanging out with him.  “Hey, Dad…. if I mow the lawn and do the hedges, can I borrow the car tonight?” “Well yeah, I suppose… why don’t you sit with me and let’s talk about that and some other stuff that’s been going on lately?”  “Sorry dad, don’t really have time….  I want to get those chores done, get the car and take off early to pickup my girlfriend.”    “Alright… how ’bout a raincheck… lunch after church tomorrow?” “Hmm….  I’m going to the movies with my friends… speaking of which, can I borrow $20?”

    Sometimes, I think we avoid the intimacy because we’re afraid of what the Father will tell us (or is that just me?)  Keeping busy for God sometimes becomes the very excuse we use to avoid spending time with him. 

  • Omegadk1

    Very true. I am very thankful for this post. It is quite easy to get caught up in “doing”… when God wants us to “Be”. A.W.E.S.O.M.E!
    _____________________________________________________________www.menenmasse.com     A new social network for christian men

  • Anonymous

    You must have just read Watchman Nee’s “Sit, Walk, Stand” his commentary on Ephesians, because I just did and it talks about the exact same thing. Jesus doesn’t command us to do anything because “WE” can’t do it, only Christ can, and as long as we “abide in the vine”, we’ll do it also.

  • Kimberlychalcraft

    Every person has their own personal relationship with Jesus. ( If they have accepted Jesus into their heart)  Jesus never said our “good works” will get us into heaven. I  believe in praying about my questions and meditating on God’s word.

  • Hammerb

    Fantastic, that spoke right to my Heart, Thank you

  • Kimberlychalcraft

    Jesus also said that faith without works is dead. So, there will always be “some doing” in the christian walk and also if you have Jesus in your heart you should already be “The kind Of Person Who” Ect….

  • Ngseney

    Hi Kurt,

    Can you please explain/point me in the right direction on “lectio divina”?

    Thanks brother

  • Kurt, I love your blog. With that said, the distinction you draw between doing/being seems very unnecessary. If what you’re saying is true that one can follow the sermon on the mount and still not be a different person, how do you follow that it is necessary that some one will change the kind of person they are and automatically follow the sermon on the mount? 

    We are our habits. We become the things we repeatedly do. I don’t see any reason to stop serving the poor so that you can practice Sabbath in order to go back and serve the poor. The two are not mutually exclusive. Why do you say the Holy Spirit invites us to “stop and be” could you not say that the Holy Spirit invites us to “do and become”?

    For years my parents made me say “thank you” after they or some one else gave me something. I did not understand being grateful at the time, but their forcing me to have the habit of gratitude has helped me to learn to be a grateful person today which is to say that our habits our formed in the common life we share with others (church).

    Also your statement “God can’t change the world unless God changes me” struck me as odd. Would it not be better to say that “God has changed the world and thus wants to change me”?

    As much as I love your blog, this came across as an excuse not to do anything and I wouldn’t post any of these criticisms if I didn’t think you could handle them or if I wasn’t hopeful that you would take them into consideration.

  • I loved everything you said! I would add to the list of disciplines you
    describe (very much indicative of Willard’s more individual emphases)
    some things about joining fully in the life of the church and the
    fellowship of saints  – as Stanley Hauerwas of your own tradition has
    pointed out tirelessly, it is through our embeddedness in a community
    shaped by a particular narrative – that of God in Christ reconciling the
    world to himself – that we are most profoundly formed to be ‘a certain
    kind of person,’ the kind of person you desire to be (as should all of
    us who profess to follow Christ). Amen to your post!!

  • Erin Diericx

    Thank you for posting these words of wisdom. So many of us fall into the same trap, being and not doing. Blessings on your quest.

    Many blessings,
    Erin M Diericx
    Weekly devotions on healing

  • Hi Kurt,

    Bonhoeffer said  something like, “Don’t try and change the world, first change the world in you.” As a young reader of his ‘Letters and Papers from Prison’ it seemed an interminably long way of doing things. That could last forever! Now I see the wisdom in that, although it is still a challenge!

    Sorry this is a shameless plug! But your thoughts resonate with my book ‘The Cultural Way of Being’, where I’m extolling the virtues not for the ‘doing’ of the inspired individual, but for a heart set on ‘being’ as a part of community, as an act of service, of understanding that our ‘being’ in God has a cultural dynamic for change, but how we must first have a heart which is committed to being in community, being in God. Understanding who we are before before  what we do.

    Much of church life is spent on doing, maintaining the institution, but I’d love to hear a few sermons on ‘being’, so that as we look in the mirror, we are transformed, before the world outside. Maybe God is waiting for us, before the world is changed?



  • JustAGuy

    Cute article!  A fun play on “words.”  Christians, (little Christ’s) naturally live that list of yours above because we live our lives with the Holy Spirit directing us and teaching us.  It seems here you’re having fun with Living “like” a Christian, implying that it’s something we turn on and off at our convenience.  It’s not!  It’s who I am.  It’s who my wife is.  It’s who my parents are.  So it becomes a word game.  If you don’t live that list above, then your not Christ-like.  AND, if you’re not Christ-like in your living, your NOT a Christian.  You may have accepted Christ as your Savior, and therefore saved by His grace, BUT your not a Christian by your living.  A silly word game.  God knows the “hearts” of his children, even the heart of the Pastor who’s on his way to visit someone in the Hospital and he REALLY doesn’t want to go, but is going through the motions because its his job.

    But my real question to you, Kurt, as I am a brand spanking new reader, is this:  What is your definition of Social Justice?  I believe in giving a hand “up” not a hand “out.”  I don’t believe Jesus was an enabler, encouraging poor, lazy people to live off of the government.  Our government wants to make more people dependent on the government for their survival, and that is irresponsible.  Taking money away from someone who has earned it and giving it to someone who hasn’t earned it, teaches the latter nothing about personal responsibility.  AND those who simply live off of the government or the earnings of a successful person (because it’s been “redistributed”) are receiving enough $$$ to live, and not enough to “give” to those even less fortunate than them.  They contribute nothing!  If they’re sick or disabled in some way, that’s a completely different situation.  Any way, I’m not an intellectual, or a theologian, or a pastor, or an elitist, or politically astute, or even a great thinker for that matter, and I don’t live in the Calaveras Neighborhood like H. Spees.  I’m just a person who loves God, my spouse and kids.  God has blessed us.  I’ve worked hard to educate myself and achieve my current status.  My spouse has done the same and my kids are currently doing the same.  We give consistently given to institutions who’s objective is to help down and out individuals get back on their “own feet,” and help educate children in less fortunate countries.  I won’t give $$ to a person who claims they’re homeless or just wants a quarter because they’re hungry, but I will take them into a restaurant and buy them a meal and encourage them to seek assistance from the evangel home or some other Christ-centered establishment that will help them get back on they’re “own two feet.”   I really don’t understand what you and your mentors want this world to look like, realistically.

  • Great post! Only the Holy Spirit has the power to move us in the direction we’re suppose to go towards, but we must be open minded to follow.

  • Your insights and experiences are astounding. Hopefully more people would follow your example. 

  • Lisa

    You hit it right on the head for me too. I was doing , doing  and doing I wasnt being, it got to a point where I was getting mad at God But then he made me resalise it was me placing restrictions and reactions and laws and rules upon myself that I decieved myself into thinking by doing it would make me more christlike if anything my doing disjointed my realationship with God and I wasnt letting him take the lead.

  • Anonymous

    Let God drive our lives, and surely, he will take us to the right path where we belong and where will be happy. Be contented and thankful for all the blessing the he gave to us.
    I love you quotes
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  • WOW, I love this! My husband and I quit Christianity several years ago. There has been such freedom in this, I can’t even begin to express the beautiful, lovely freedom. At that time, I changed my Email address to ” resting”. When I read your article, I thought of the verse in Hebrews that tell us to labor to do one thing and that is to ” labor to enter His rest”. Bless you on your journey. I’ve determined also , to do nothing ever again that is in my oun strength and flesh. We’d been on mission trips to Haiti but now I see that when the power of Christ compells me to go again, there will be NO lack of food, supplies, clothes, etc. MEGA BLESSINGS, Denise

  • Mike Smith

    Hi Kurt. This oughtta crack you up…I have an automated Google search that mines for the word “Jesus.” This morning it picked up your,”Who do you say Jesus is?” blog entry. I have no idea what/how the search works…I presume you and others write about “Jesus” often, but I rarely see blog posts pop up. Nonetheless, yours did! I scanned a few of your other posts…I like your writting. This one caught my eye. I’m a pastor and I jotted myself a note a few months back to consider a series called,”Stop Living Like a Christian.” I guess I’ll just point people here! Nice work.

  • Great article. It’s eye-opening too. I think I fell into doing instead being very often.

  • Jeremya01

    Are you saying that we should not attempt to follow the direction of the Bible, but rather an inward prompting? I have a relationship with God, and also look to His recorded truth to understand the direction He wants my life to take. It seems like the Bible broaches the idea of some type of obedience, even in the New Testament. I’m not exactly sure how you are disconnecting our experience with God from His own written word. I thought the word of God was living–Christ in written form? If someone told me that they now had a personal relationship to Christ in conjunction with certain good deeds which might happen to allign with scripture, I would assume that person had experienced what the Bible refers to as being “born” into Christ. I would say, “praise God!”

  • Jenn

    This speaks to my heart!  Thank you. 

  • Larissa

    A to the MEN! Lovin it! 🙂

  • Amen!

  • Pete

    There are three dimension in life and everything fits into one of these three, having, being, and doing. If being isnt at the top the other two will be out of alignment with the Spirit and come from the soul. If it is at the top, which is under the Spirits control, the others will be spontaneous, Thats why even Jesus said without the Father I can do nothing, and the gentiles , not knowing the law, lived within it. I learned this from Malcolm Smith’s teaching free from the law. Malcolmsmith.org. So good to see this info!!

  • Guest

    Hey Kurt awesome post. I completely agree that Christ does not call us to live the Jesus life out of a guilt to “do”, but out of a peace and joy to “be”. That being said, I feel as though a great deal of the Church (or at least the North American Church) has drifted away from the practical and tangible elements of Christ’s lifestyle, often as a development, from what I can gather, of focusing so greatly on “knowing Jesus” rather than living like Jesus (strange that sometimes the two don’t co-exist). I agree that what you describe, being transformed from the inside out by Christ through His Spirit, should then translate to a life lived out for Christ; however, I have so often seen it turn into a “God and I” relationship, singing praises to Jesus and saying his name a lot, but then negating the involvement/importance of others & tangibly serving/living like Christ. I know that this was my experience for much of my life: a focus on knowing God, but a lack of living out what Jesus practically taught. So, I guess I agree that it should play out this way, the “be” = the “do”. I just wish I saw that take place more in my own experiences/life. I also get challenged by passages like Matt 25 when the “do” seems to equal meeting Jesus w/out even knowing it, “as you do unto the least of these, you do unto me.”

    Again, awesome post….you get me thinking!
    Cheers brother!

  • nicksider

    Hey Kurt awesome post. I completely agree that Christ does not call us to live the Jesus life out of a guilt to “do”, but out of a peace and joy to “be”. That being said, I feel as though a great deal of the Church (or at least the North American Church) has drifted away from the practical and tangible elements of Christ’s lifestyle, often as a development, from what I can gather, of focusing so greatly on “knowing Jesus” rather than living like Jesus (strange that sometimes the two don’t co-exist). I agree that what you describe, being transformed from the inside out by Christ through His Spirit, should then translate to a life lived out for Christ; however, I have so often seen it turn into a “God and I” relationship, singing praises to Jesus and saying his name a lot, but then negating the involvement/importance of others & tangibly serving/living like Christ. More & more I see an Isaiah 1:13-17 taking place. I know that this was my experience for much of my life: a focus on knowing God, but a lack of living out what Jesus practically taught. So, I guess I agree that it should play out this way, the “be” = the “do”. I just wish I saw that take place more in my own experiences. I also get challenged by passages like Matt 25 when the “do” seems to equal meeting Jesus w/out even knowing it, “as you do unto the least of these, you do unto me.”

    Again, awesome post….you get me thinking!
    Cheers brother!

  • gem

    The article refers to Dallas Willard’s Spirit of the Disciplines. I want to point out that spiritual disciplines and good works are not the same thing. Disciplines are spiritual exercises that build spiritual muscle much the same as physical exercises build physical muscle. If you’re going to be able to play football, you’re going to have to spend time in the weight room. Lifting weights is not playing football, but you can’t play football without lifting the weights. Spiritual disciplines are the weight lifting that needs to be done so that God can work through us to do good works. Spiritual disciplines build a relationship between us and God whereby we learn to understand who the Holy Spirit is and how he works as well as who He created us to be. We don’t stop doing, however, our doing becomes directed by, authorized by, and performed by the Holy Spirit through us rather doing that which was unauthorized, directed and performed by ourselves.

  • Eric Kouns

    This is one of the most profoundly insightful and helpful pieces of writing I have encountered in many years. I affirm all that you have written in this post, and I give God thanks that, in His providence, I was able to read it and benefit from it. I shared it on my own Facebook page. I wish you well. God’s grace and peace to you.

  • Precisely. It has to be real. We cannot change ourselves, only God can. Our works will never gain us entry into heaven. Allowing Him to change us by the power of the Holy Spirit and the revelation of the Word – will change us automatically. It becomes natural to us to do these things!

  • Awesome post! Keep up the great work 😉
    I love how you made the point that being is more important than doing. It has to come from your heart! Otherwise you won’t feel joy!

  • Tami Terry Martin

    Being, in this case like Christ and inimately knowing Jesus, will lead to doing in the best possible ways (hopefully). But doing does not necessarily lead to being. I suppose it could, if you’re listening carefully. But doing that list of things is nothing if not exhausting. And it may just lead to that “I’ve earned this” attitude. Which itself often produces the attitude that the hating and bigotry are also right on track. Subtle line of demarkation, but worth exploring.