It Must Start On The Inside

The fourth way to live as a daughter of is to:

4.)  Focus on thinking and feeling like your Father, not just doing what He does.

I am not a fan of the bracelet that was so popular some years back that was inscribed with, “What would Jesus do?” It was created to be a constant visual reminder to ask yourself, as you lived through the day, what Jesus would do in each situation. While that inspired many righteous acts, I wonder if a heart change preceded them. I can be really good at studying the life of Jesus, of getting to know, and name, the character qualities of God and then setting out to mimic them. It is self-produced, behavioral modification.

I used to live this way. I came to call it ‘grit mode’ because I became accustomed to gritting my teeth to do the right thing while my heart felt something completely opposite. I grew addicted to the respect I felt from others for acting so spiritual while, privately, I ignored what my heart was feeling and my mind was really thinking. For instance, my anger could seethe beneath the surface at any given moment but I acted nice. I was often depressed but portrayed that I was trusting God and everything was fine.

There’s a much better prayer than asking my Father to help me live like He would live. It’s asking Him to help me think, and feel, like He does. That comes from proximity. Meditating. Studying. Listening. Treasuring. Worshipping. Being one with God on the inside, mentally and emotionally, culminates in effortless, changed behavior.

The greatest commandment, according to Jesus, gives strong clues that what’s important to our Father is what’s happening on the level of our heart, soul, and mind. None of that is behavioral. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ Judas, for example, was indistinguishable from the other eleven disciples. He looked like them, acted like them, said all the right things, and feigned love and loyalty to Jesus. Yet, his heart was cold. His betrayal was intentional and calculated. At the last supper, none of them knew who Jesus was referring to when He predicted that one would be traitorous.

The commands in scripture can seem like they form a textbook manual for one’s conduct. They do not. I am God’s child and spiritual formation is what His relationship with me is all about. Dallas Willard says it beautifully ~

Spiritual formation for the Christian basically refers to the Spirit-driven process of forming the inner world of the human self in such a way that it becomes like the inner being of Christ himself.

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