Maturing Toward Wholeness in the Inner Life
1 – A governor, evangelical Christian, had a very public extra-marital affair. What causes such breakdowns—when deeds contradict profession?
2 – Jesus spoke of another kind of life, different to what humans typically experience—one permeated with meaning, fulfillment, integrity, joy.
3 – Jesus made astounding claims about the life he offers. It is like water to the thirsty, bread to the hungry. It is life in abundance.
4 – The life Jesus described was eternal in quality as well as duration. He came to restore to humans the ability to share God’s life with him.
5 – Jesus: This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (John17:3). Eternal life is knowing God.
6 – What was Jesus talking about? To many he seemed out of touch with the “real world.” But Jesus was speaking about a deeper, Unseen Reality.
7 – Jesus said the life he came to bring is not found by searching the human ideas and traditions all around us. It comes from another Source.
8 – Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God—the sphere in which God rules. This was the central subject in his teaching. He said it was “at hand.”
9 – Jesus said the kingdom of God (of heaven) is available to all, right now, here, next to us, all around us. And it is profoundly desirable.
10 – Jesus: The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. A man found it, sold all he had and bought the field Matt 13:44. Smart man!
11 – Who was this Jesus making such claims? Where did he get his information? People said he spoke with authority. “No one ever spoke like this!”
12 – If God’s unseen Kingdom is open to everybody, right now, two questions arise: 1) How does one enter? 2) Once in, how does one live there?
13 – Jesus said we enter God’s Kingdom 1) by choosing to turn from our old ways (repentance) and 2) by relying on him (faith). He is the door in.
14 – Entering God’s kingdom, we experience his Presence—the most fulfilling, life-giving thing we have ever known. We want to remain there 24/7.
15 – But we quickly find that to turn from our old ways takes more than willpower. Many of our old ways are deeply entrenched destructive habits.
16 – We try hard to change. We rely on our own strength. Our own strength fails us. The end result is discouragement, failure, quiet desperation.
17 – A tragic misunderstanding among Christians: Teach someone how to act and willpower will enable him to do it. The failures are all around us.
18 – It is widely accepted that the Christian life will be characterized by failure. Is this really what Jesus and the apostles taught?
19 – Inability to live God’s ways in our own strength refocuses us on the second question: How does one learn to live with God in his kingdom?
20 – We live in God’s kingdom the same way we entered—we turn from our own ways and rely upon Jesus. But we need to be taught how to do that.
21 – Jesus is known as Savior and Lord. We must also come to know him as Teacher. “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right…” (John13:13).
22 – Having announced that God’s kingdom was now available to all, Jesus called disciples. In discipleship he taught them the ways of God’s rule.
23 – We can understand discipleship as apprenticeship. In apprenticeship we have 1) a master 2) apprentices (learners) 3) skills to be mastered.
24 – In discipleship 1) Jesus is the Master 2) we are the apprentices (learners) 3) the skills to be learned are how to live in God’s kingdom.
25 – Much Christian teaching tells me how to behave. But behavior is largely an expression of character—the person I have become on the inside.
26 – What I really need to know is how character is re-formed—how the inner life can be re-shaped toward Christlikeness. Jesus knows how.
27 – To change behavior, Jesus did not focus on behavior. He focused on transforming character. He said to grow good fruit you need a good tree.
28 – On the cross Jesus forgave his killers. How did he do it? Super-human willpower? Or was he just the kind of person who forgives his enemies?
29 – In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus was not moralizing but describing—describing how people behave who have hearts re-formed under God’s rule.
30 – God’s ways become my ways as Christlikeness is gradually formed in me. I become the kind of person who prefers forgiveness to bitterness.
31 – Living in God’s kingdom is living under God’s rule. Living under God’s rule is living in God’s Presence. In God’s Presence I am re-formed.
32 – God created me for his Presence like he created fish for water. God’s Presence is my true home. Why then do I find staying there so hard?
33 – Barriers within block or hinder me from abiding in God’s Presence; e.g., 1) guilt 2) deeply entrenched destructive habits 3) inner wounding.
34 – Guilt is the easiest of these to remove, though it tends to receive the most attention. Guilt is removed by 1) the truth and 2) the cross.
35 – I must first tell myself the truth about my sin. Then I can tell God the truth about it (repentance) and repent to those I have wronged.
36 – Having told God the truth about my sin, in prayer I bring it to Christ on the cross. His cross has power to remove every effect of my sin.
37 – Removing destructive habits is more difficult. Jesus leads me into a life-long process of dying to the self life and living in his new life.
38 – Inner pain can block my maturing into the person I am in Christ. Sin, mine and that of others, wounded me. Healing comes in God’s Presence.
39 – Christlikeness is formed, not in the mind, but in a Relationship. Dallas Willard: I am with Jesus to learn from Jesus how to be like Jesus.
40 – Discipleship to Jesus produces inwardly transformed people. I am inwardly transformed as I learn from Jesus how to live in God’s Presence.
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