Christ in Me, the Hope of Something New!
I “threw” this pot on a wheel when I was in a college. A liberal arts degree requires art. This is my art. Pretty nice, don’t you think?
This pot didn’t really contribute anything to the process of becoming a pot except raw materials. In fact, when I scooped up a glob of wet clay and plopped it on the wheel, it didn’t look like much. As I worked it on a wheel, this pile of wet mud was slowly but surely formed into the fully functional container that you see here, with a beauty all its own. And all the clay had to do was remain in my hands and patiently await the forming, shaping touch of my fingers and motion of the wheel.
Most of us have friends and family we’d love to see changed. Explosive anger and the spirit of control need to go, along with lust and greed. Deliverance from addictions is necessary, replaced by self-control. A new attitude of love and understanding should be embraced. And, a rare few of us realize that we, too, need to change. We live in hope that destructive habits and thoughts can be replaced by something better.
For those of us who follow Jesus Christ by grace, we bask in His love and enjoy His presence in spite of thoughts and habits we know to be negative. But we also have Jesus’ perfect example to live up to. We read Jesus’ imperative command – “be holy as I am Holy.”(1) Knowing the condition of my own heart, this feels like an impossibly high standard.
So we set out to make some changes for the better. With white-knuckle determination, we attempt to improve our personal discipline, make better choices, and institute healthier habits. The shelves of our local book stores are packed with self-help titles. No matter how hard we strive, however, this process proves to be slow, exhausting, and discouraging at times, producing only surface-level changes. Deep down in our heart, we secretly hope that there is a better way.
In the eighteenth century, Scottish theologian Thomas Chalmers concluded that people will never overcome bad habits or character flaws by simply trying harder. In his classic Sermon, “The Expulsive Power of the New Affection,” Chalmers asserted that the human heart “. . . is so constituted that the only way to disposes it of an old affection is through the expulsive power of a new one.” That new affection is Jesus.
So, good news! Jesus has provided a better way. Rather than expending all our focus and energy trying to fix our problems, we can fix our eyes on Jesus and be transformed in the process. The author of Hebrews puts it this way,
“And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”(2)
We keep our eyes on Him and He initiates and perfects our faith, resulting in deep life transformation. Instead of attempting to modify behavior as our path to perfection, we learn that He just wants us to remain in His hands. It’s all about Jesus.
“But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” II Corinthians 4:7
Nothing His children can do will make Him love us more, and no sin His children commit will make Him love us less. When our eyes are focused on Him, we find ourselves wanting what He wants, loving what He loves, and discovering our greatest joy in His presence. The hope of glory is transformation into the likeness of Christ Jesus, who is the treasure within us! (3)
He is perfect; I’m not. When He takes up residence in my heart, someone’s gotta’ change. When I keep my eyes fixed on Him, true transformation comes through Christ living in me. And all I have to do is remain in His loving hands as He shapes me into His glorious image.
Remaining in His hands,
(1) I Peter 1:16, English Standard Version
(2) Hebrews 12:1b-2a, New Living Translation
(3) Romans 8:29 English Standard Version