No Time to Dive Deep
When your schedule is full, having more on your plate than you could possibly do, it’s easy to push the call of God aside. Busyness serves as a distraction to deeper challenges. If we keep everything on the surface, we don’t have to dive into the deeper depths of who we are. We are also distracted from God’s call.
When I refer to “God’s call,” I’m not referring to a vocation. I’m referring to the call each of us has to wholeness, peace, and abundant life. This call comes to us each day we open our eyes. Every day, God calls us to become more like Jesus. Each day, we have the choice to honor that call or disregard it.
Some might think that as a pastor, I would jump at the opportunity to become more like Jesus. Nope. I want to be more like Jesus, but the path is long and difficult. It’s no wonder that Jesus said most take the broad and easy path (Matthew 7:13)
Change is Hard
I’m not like Jesus. In order to become like Jesus, things must change. I must change. If I become like Jesus, my attitudes, behaviors, and view of life will be like his. Some attitudes, thoughts, and behaviors must stop. Stopping is hard because I have grown comfortable with how I am and expect others to put up with me. Expecting others to put up with my sinful tendencies (Let’s call them what they are) isn’t the way of Jesus. Love, peace, compassion, and mercy are the way of Jesus.
At one point, Jesus said:
34 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. 36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”Mark 8:34-37
I’ve read and preached on that passage many, many times. It’s a passage that’s great for “other people.” Such as, “Joe, you really need to hear what Jesus says here.” It’s also great when applied to “everyone else.” But when it’s applied to your own life, it’s a different story.
There’s nothing easy about death. Jesus is calling those who would follow him to die…to themselves…to what they want…to what they have grown comfortable with…and to find their life in him. It was this call to die that I started hearing as I took a deeper look at my tendencies and dispositions.
I’ve posted about revisiting the Enneagram during my sabbatical. The Enneagram breaks down personality into nine different ‘types’ with the ‘wings’ giving 27 different personality possibilities. There are nuances within types as well because there are more than 27 approaches to life. The types help us understand the motivations behind our behavior or why we do what we do. Each type has good qualities (virtues) and bad qualities (vices).
As I took a deeper look within, I stopped snickering about my more troublesome qualities and started weeping. In the Enneagram, I found Jesus’ call to die to myself and find transformation in him. I began to see who I could be and how I could become more like Jesus.
Transformation sounds great, but it really isn’t. Transformation isn’t a joyride. Change is hard and tough. Even coming to the decision to follow Jesus’ narrow pathway will be hard because, deep down, it requires a lot of work, work I may not want to do.
A Better Way
God calls all of us to peace, joy, and love. Jesus comes alongside us to empower us. Paul tells us to work out our own salvation because God is working in us, giving us desire and ability (Philippians 2:12-13). Yet, we get in our own way and sabotage God’s work. We “trip” over ourselves.
Jesus gives us a choice. We can continue the way we are, or we can have abundant life with him. Such a simple choice on the surface. Under the surface, we kick and scream all the way, not wanting to let go of what we’ve grown accustomed to because we believe we need it.
Perhaps we have a sense that to have peace, love, joy, and everything abundant life provides, we must first die. Jesus tells us to take up our cross, die to ourselves (our old ways), and follow him. When we do, we take the narrow way of abundant life. Sadly, as Jesus points out, many will take the broad way, which leads to destruction and death.
Time to Choose
The choice is ours. Following Jesus means we must become more like Jesus. Becoming more like Jesus means we become less like what we’ve grown accustomed to. He reaches out to us in love, grace, and compassion, making an offer of life. The path Jesus calls us to may not be easy, but it imparts all we ever truly need!
What’s your decision? We are mistaken if we think this is a “one and done” decision. We choose every day. Every moment gives us an opportunity to continue in whatever old way we have grown used to or choose the way of Jesus and abundant life! It’s always time to choose which way we will go. I pray you choose life!
If you would like more information about the Enneagram or anything I write about, feel free to comment or reach out to me. Also, please share this with anyone who may benefit from it.