Recently I was talking with a friend about making life choices that display the reality of Jesus in our lives. She stopped and said: “It’s about incorporating our lives into God instead of trying to incorporate God into our lives.” So often we try to fit God into a box or a category in our lives. We may be great at talking about our relationships with God when we’re at church or Bible Study. It’s easy to be kind when we sign up for a Missions day or an outreach event. We’re willing to be interrupted when it fits into our schedules conveniently. But if we’re really serious about the idea of saying “yes” to God, then He doesn’t just want to be a compartment in our lives; He wants to be the center.
Lysa TerKeurst says: “I remind myself often that people don’t care to meet my Jesus until they meet the reality of Jesus in my life” (p. 70 What Happens When Women Say “Yes” to God). Maybe another way to put it is: who am I when no one else is looking? How do I react when things don’t go the way I want or people don’t perform according to my expectations? This may reveal more about who Jesus is in our lives than who we are at church on Sunday or Bible Study on Thursday.
So often our reactions to frustrations are rooted in the flesh and we have a simple knee-jerk response. Instead of stopping to pray and asking God’s Spirit to guide us, we just do what comes naturally, which isn’t usually the best plan.
There is no way to sustain being more like Jesus on our own strength. We can’t just “try harder.” The only way to do it is to abide in Him and let Him do the rest: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
If we rely on our own wisdom instead of seeking the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, we are taking matters into our own hands and missing what God has for us. “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:7-8
Here are a few things that might impede the reality of Jesus in our lives:
When worry swallows us up, we tend to become inwardly focused; we are unaware of the world around us and de-sensitized to the needs of others. We are so consumed with our own issues that we can become self-absorbed without realizing it. Maybe you have some regular topics that you worry about in your life: your kids, finances, health, relationships, overwhelming responsibilities. If you want to experience the reality of Jesus in your life, try letting Him in on your worries and letting Him show you a new perspective.
“Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you” 1 Peter 5:7.
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3
Sometimes we encounter people who make it difficult for us to experience the reality of Jesus in our lives. Rather than avoiding them or trying harder to deal with them on your own strength, try praying and asking God to give you the strength you need to love as He loves. Pray that God will open your eyes to see the person in a new light and to have a better understanding of him or her. Pray that God will use the challenge of being in relationship with that person to refine you. The Bible has much to say about our response to people. One passage that covers many topics concisely is Romans 12:9-21:
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: `It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary:
If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Challenging/ Uncomfortable Circumstances-
Lysa talks about “small tests” that we face that make it a challenge to live the reality of Jesus. If you find yourself struggling “to stay godly when things in life go awry,” try asking God what He wants to teach you and how you can grow (p.69). So often we’re focused on wanting God to “fix” something. We want Him to do it the way we want and we miss out on what He is trying to teach us. If we really believe that Romans 8:28 is true, then we need to ask God to show us the good in situations when we can’t find it on our own:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
If you find yourself in a situation that needs an infusion of the reality of Jesus, try praying a simple one-line prayer. Better yet, start your day praying and then be on the lookout for how God is at work. Here are few suggestions for quick prayers:
“Renew my mind”
“God, I don’t have what I need for this situation, but you do. Please fill in where I’m lacking.”
“Align my heart and will to yours.”
“Give me eyes to see this person or situation as you see it.”
“Pour out your Holy Spirit on me. Help me to glorify you and bless others today.”
“Show me where you are at work and inviting me to join you today.”
An entry in Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling sums it up well. Written as if Jesus were speaking directly to us, it says:
“When you are shaken out of your comfortable routines, grip My hand tightly and look for growth opportunities. Instead of bemoaning the loss of your comfort, accept the challenge of something new. I lead you on from glory to glory, making you fit for My kingdom. Say yes to the ways I work in your life. Trust Me and don’t be afraid.” (April 15 entry)
Every day we face new challenges that give us opportunities to trust God and to see the reality of Jesus in our lives. Imagine a shard of glass on the beach- it starts out sharp and dangerous. However, over time sand, water, rocks and even other pieces of glass buff it. What was once jagged and menacing becomes rounded and smooth through a process of constant rubbing. God can do the same thing in our lives when we allow Him to use daily challenges that rub us the wrong way to teach us. Our rough edges will begin to smooth out as we let Jesus have His way with us. Over time, others will recognize the reality of Him in our lives too.
Click on the link below to listen to “Live Like That” by Sidewalk Prophets. It is an inspiring song about living the reality of Jesus in your life.