If life is like a journey, then what it is a journey towards? For many New Yorkers it’s a journey towards greater wealth, greater opportunities (which often means more opportunities to make and spend money), greater satisfaction, greater personal power or success. But for Jesus-people who’ve opted out of these things, they’re on a different track: if life’s a journey, it’s a journey toward Sanctification. The reason I point this out is, for people who’s life is a journey toward wealth or power, they think getting more of these things means happiness… But Jesus-people believe that the happiness that comes from more wealth and power is fleeting – it wears off as soon as you imagine it’s possible to get more… Instead they believe that happiness comes from greater sanctification. Being more like Jesus will make their relationships better. Being more like Jesus will make their work better. Being more like Jesus will make everything better… So HOW do we get this?
Here are my top FIVE suggestions:
1. Get humble(-er). I probably shouldn’t put this first, because it’s the hard one…but most of our unhappiness and un-Jesus-likeness comes from out pride. The reason we hate what we get, the way we’re treated, what we can do now–the reason for a LOT of our dissatisfaction is because: we think we deserve better. Much better. I deserve a nicer car, a better job, better treatment from people, better friends… And you might. Jesus certainly deserved better, but He didn’t care about those things because He wasn’t proud. He had no problem washing His disciples’ feet. He had no problem being unknown. He had no problem having people He grew up with make more money, live in nicer houses, have more comfortable lives. Jesus was single, many of His peers were married, and held important positions, and had a higher status. But none of those things seemed to matter to the Son of God.
2. Get the Spirit. God is real, and alive, and active around you right now – and has been all your life. The only reason you’re reading this no-name blog is because His Spirit brought you here. Think about that! God’s Spirit that is active in the world wants to dwell in your mind, be a voice and a guide, a coach and a comforter: reminding you of Jesus’ life and teaching. Go get that. Learn to hear His voice, and see the way He leads His people here.
3. Get in Community. Scholars and experts in diverse fields all agree on this: you’ll be happier living in community with other people (even though these same people will annoy you sometimes, and get in your way). Learn to live as a “body…” leaning on other people’s spiritual abilities as you get to use your own.
4. Study your gifts and holiness… I think Tiger Woods was probably “gifted” in his ability to play golf. He was pre-wired for the kind of thinking and the physical aspect of the sport… But that doesn’t mean he never had to practice. And at points in his career – like every professional athlete, he probably had to break down what he was doing, unlearn bad habits (i.e., repent), and then learn to do it better. You need to learn to do that with your spiritual gifts… It would be a sad world for sports fans if everyone “gifted” in a sport decided to just rely on their gifting, and not humble themselves (there’s that word again), and study their game…
5. Learn to Celebrate in Worship. Jesus preached that those who are partying (because their world is so great right now) will mourn… Because the world is actually pretty screwed up and when God sets it right, they’re not going to like it. BUT, those who mourn now (because we know the world is screwed up) will laugh and celebrate. Worshipping God is about celebrating the future…today, because we know God is so unfailing… and because we really need to practice celebrating so that we won’t be curmudgeons when the day comes. Plus, we who get to know God now, who get in on the ground floor of Heaven’s start up venture, should be the ones who know how to celebrate the best.