Becoming free through Christ is a spiritual process of growth in him. Donna Hart, PhD, shares how saying “yes” to Jesus brings freedom. This article appeared first here on Donna’s website and is used with her permission.
Does it seem like the world wants to squeeze us all into the same mold? It is the world’s perspective that we need to all use the same toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, drive the same cars, wear the same clothes, eat the same foods, have the same perspective on success, and have the same desires. And that pressure from the world can make us afraid to take a different direction for fear of being seen as weird or out of fashion.
All of this makes us bristle in our souls and say, “This is not right we were made for more than this.”
Deep in our souls we long to find our individuality. It is only in Christ that we find individuality. And it is only in relationship with Christ that we become individuals with compassionate hearts progressively free from the world’s culture of self-centeredness. We become compassionate persons in an infinite variety of models. It is where we learn to love and serve like Jesus in unique ways.
A Life Lived for God and Others
The image of Christ is formed in each of us in unique and individual ways. This image brings cleansing, healing, restoration, renewal, transformation, and wholeness into the unclean, diseased, broken, and imprisoned parts of our lives. It brings compassion where there was once indifference, forgiveness in the place of bitterness, kindness in the place of coldness, transparency in the place of protective defensiveness. It brings a life lived for God and others, not for ourselves.
As 2 Corinthians 3:18 states,
We all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness.
Ephesians 4:13 continues,
until we all attain…to mature personhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Colossians 3:9-10 completes the thought,
seeing that we have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator.
We can never be all that God wants us to be with others as long as those points of unlikeness to the image of Christ exist within us. The work of God’s formation in us is the process of forming us in the image of Christ, taking place at the points at which we are not yet formed in His image.
A Self-Test for Spiritual Growth
If you want a good test of your spiritual growth, simply examine the nature and quality of your relationships with others. Are you more loving, compassionate, patient, understanding, caring, giving, and forgiving than you were a year ago?
This means the Spirit of God is going to be confronting and challenging us from our brokenness into wholeness in Christ. The part of us that has not been formed into the likeness of Christ is not simply a thing in us-it is an essential part of who we are becoming.
As God knocks on the door of our hearts, wanting to change who we are, we must release ourselves to God. When we come to a point of saying “yes” to God at each point of our unlikeness, we give God permission to do the work God wants to do, because transformation is not going to be forced on us. When we say ‘yes’, the process of being formed in the image of Christ begins.
When You Say ‘Yes’ to Christ
Jesus joined loving God with loving others in Matthew 22:37-38 when He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Our relationships with others are not only the testing grounds of our spiritual life but also the places where our growth toward wholeness in Christ happens. The process of being formed in the image of Christ takes place in the midst of our relationships with others. We learn to be Christ’s for others by seeking to be yielded and obedient to God in the midst of our relationships.
Take a few moments at the end of the day to reflect on your day, asking God to search you and know you and help you to know yourself (Psalm 139:23-24). Review each part of your day, each interaction with others, each inner thought pattern, and each outer response.
As you do, ask God to show you where you fell short of being like Christ, where you fell short of God’s created purpose for you as a compassionate person. As God brings moments to mind, confess them as a place of unlikeness to Christ and thank God for his forgiveness. Open yourself to God’s transformation in that area and give Him permission to do His work.