How can I become more like Jesus? Is spiritual progress automatic? I’ll answer the second question first: No! First question: We have a responsibility to make an effort to become more like Jesus, of course, with God the Father’s Holy Spirit enabling us. The Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Colossians shows God’s plan very clearly.
If you know people who doubt that we can grow spiritually, give them my life-story What God Has Done.
In Colossians 1 and 2, Paul presents God’s rescue plan clearly, resulting in Jesus’ going through suffering, death, and resurrection in order to be the Ruler of the universe and of the church. In 2:13, Paul writes, “When you were dead in your sins…, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins….” Therefore, we who believe have received new life with Jesus when he rose from the dead, and that life must grow within us.
Then, in Colossians 3:1-3, Paul shifts gears by calling believers to fulfill our God-given responsibility in making the effort to grow in knowing God, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you have died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
Notice that Paul shifts from what has already happened to what must happen in our new lives. But don’t miss his amazing, God-given teaching that true believers’ spiritual lives are already in heaven with the Father and Jesus. Let that truth sink into your brain and life. What does it mean for our lives?
First, our lives’ presence in heaven means that prayer is essential to our growth. Who has a good friend with whom she never talks? No one. God wants us to talk with him all the time. He will answer us through people, our experiences, and especially when we read the Bible and attend church.
Second, people have said that the Old Testament has commands, while the New Testament doesn’t. That idea ignores the commands of Paul and the writer to the Hebrews. In Colossians 3, Paul gives us twenty commandments with several parts to call us to be more like Jesus by fulfilling our responsibility of obedience.
I’ll share with you more in my next blogpost about God’s will for our lives. I welcome your response.