One of the facts about existence that I am slowly discovering is this: people who choose the kingdom of God are all very different; there is no final destination for being “perfected” in this life; and the idea of a “typical Christian” is fully false.
We know that each of us is different. We have our strengths and weaknesses, our quirky little ways, our “hang-ups”, our own way of seeing the world. This is by divine design, that each of us is unique. I used to really dislike myself because of my bad decisions and life of sin and assumed that after being born again into the kingdom of God that the Lord would mold me and make me into what He wanted and/or needed. The fact I realize now is that He did all that before I was even born! What I or the world perceives to be a negative personality trait or a propensity for certain modes of operation is actually a positive “hidden” under a thick layer of reasoning that the world has shoved down our throats. You see, for me anyway, I have begun to understand myself in a whole different way. When the Holy Spirit begins to purify and sanctify a person, He actually brings us back to what God originally intended. What I thought would be a completely new creation in reality was simply a restoration to what the Lord had always intended me to be.
The beauty of the kingdom of God and the desire to be more of a spiritual being, or operating in the spiritual realm, is that one is required to accept one’s personality in Christ. What do I mean? For example, I have an addictive personality. I have been addicted at some point in my life to alcohol, drugs, sex, material gain, golf, you name it. But as I “worked out my salvation with fear and trembling” the Lord showed me a great truth: Mainly, that all the things I thought were negatives (even the hard road that I chose) God has turned, or should I say “is turning”, them into positives. I made a mess of my life and at one point I really thought I was hopeless. How is that positive? Well, coming out the other side of this hard road with the hand of Christ in mine and the Holy Spirit teaching me, has shown me the beauty and healing in it; that I am now uniquely qualified to help other people who presently struggle with addiction. I understand the loss of hope a lot more than I really want to! But, when someone tells me they feel hopelessly lost, or addicted, or in sin, or just plain miserable…I totally understand their perspective. Is there anything more dismaying than having a “holy” pastor or preacher telling the hopeless to “have hope”? Does anything sound more foreign to the addict or alcoholic than a loved one telling them to “just stop ________ and everything will be o.k?”
What many people don’t understand is that the addict or one deep in sin probably already knows about Jesus…They just feel too ashamed or worthless to approach God. Nothing you can say to an addict will make them change their view of themself! Only, and I mean only, when the LOVE of God is demonstrated to pertain to them personally does anything significantly change. Religion and people accusing you of “living in sin” just festers the wound. When I was drinking, I wanted to stop but could not. So when someone says, “Hey man, you need to stop drinking and that will solve your problems”…you can only become more bitter. The reason is quite simple: alcoholism, addiction, etc. is a symptom of an underlying problem…Addiction isn’t the disease, spiritual depravity and lack of hope is the real problem. I don’t stand alone on this premise; everyone who has ever come out the other side of any type of addiction or life of sin and hopelessness will tell you the same thing! What’s wrong on the inside manifests itself on the outside…not the other way around.
I always assumed that God’s plan for me involved Him changing me into someone completely different…oops! I was wrong. God can and will change your perspective; not your personality. I cannot be a patient person, but I can learn patience. I am not a loving person toward strangers, but I can learn love. No matter what, the Lord loves you just the way He made you originally! However, the world and life without God can pervert our personality into something unrecognizable and detestable. I am not proud of my past, but God can use my past to heal the future. I am not happy about feeling like I wasted a good portion of my life wandering in the desert of life without God, but I can now be used by Him as a signpost for others treading the same path. If Jesus was willing to lay His life down for all men, shouldn’t I be somewhat honored that I am presently laying my life down for others? But I would have never had the opportunity to do so if I wasn’t originally “broken”! The path I chose rightly or wrongly can be used by an awesome and creative God. And the path that is led by the Lord is simply a continuation of His grace being breathed into a new chapter in our life…not a whole new book!
The real change is recognizing the kingdom of God for what it really is: inside of you! We look to define our world from the inside looking out, but in reality we should always be looking from the outside in. What do I mean? I mean, we have to learn to seek truth within ourselves by letting Christ transform us without prejudice toward our own selves. That, in my humble opinion, is one of the hardest lessons to learn. Jesus showed us that we each were “worth dying for”, but we have a hard time believing God? We can’t help ourselves sometimes; we define ourselves by the world’s standards…it is only natural. But God operates in the supernatural! By keeping our eyes on Christ, He transforms us into the Christ-like nature within ourselves that has always been there. In essence, to love oneself requires us learning to love the part that God breathed into us before we were even born…deep, I know…but nevertheless true. If we use what we see around us and in our flesh to define who we are, then we have completely missed the point. We must understand the kingdom inside of us by choosing to be part of a process that involves seeking. We seek in God’s word, we meditate on the beauty all around us, we seek the spiritual nature that God placed in us and we hone the ability to recognize the kingdom of God that really has been there the whole time…we just could not recognize it! So in a real honest way, running from God is essentially running from ourselves…running from the real person God always intended us to be.
So as I write this, I can honestly say that what God has intended for each of our lives is beyond our feeble little minds. All we can do is number one, embrace the living God and number two, embrace ourselves as God has created us and stop trying to “become what God wants you to be”…You already are what God wants you to be! He wants to transform you glory to glory into the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-29). You just maybe don’t recognize it yet…that’s the rub, that’s the point, that’s the challenge. What you grow on the inside will inevitably manifest itself on the outside if you understand that this kingdom requires you…the real you. So as we seek to be restored in Christ by the Holy Spirit, we shouldn’t assume that we will be a completely different person altogether. We need to understand that we are unique, “fearfully and wonderfully made”, and inside each of us is a child of God yearning to be birthed. By keeping our eyes on Christ, He transforms us into a unique manifestation of His nature. I encourage my readers and friends to allow this purification to take place so that we truly understand what “loving ourselves” really means. Don’t crucify what God is trying to resurrect!