“This Isn’t a Checklist”
1 Peter 3:8
All of you (Christians) should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tender hearted and keep a humble attitude.
This is one of those passages that is super tempting to turn into a Christianese checklist.
*be like minded
But reducing this Bible verse to a checklist makes these behaviors things of my desire and completely based on my own abilities, self-control, and will power. Yet scripture tells me, and I have learned from personal experience, that without Jesus, I can do nothing (John 15:5). So this is not a checklist of things for ME to tick of daily for myself in order to be a “good” Christian.
This isn’t a checklist; it’s more like a “results” list. If we are Christians, aka: “Little Christs,” these behaviors are the result of following Jesus and the way that others will know that we belong to him. But how do I get these “results” if this isn’t a checklist for me to accomplish?
I’m finding that being like Jesus doesn’t come from trying harder or trying to summon more will power. That doesn’t work. Besides, Scripture tells me that Jesus is the one who gives me the strength to do all things (Philippians 4:13), and that his Holy Spirit gives me the ability and the desire to do what pleases him (Philippians 2;13). I don’t need to work harder. I get this strength, ability, and desire to fit this list because of Jesus’ in my heart seeping out of me. And the way he seeps out of my heart is from flooding my heart with HIM.
My sister didn’t have ANY prior experience with infants when she brought her twins home from the hospital. But our family watched in amazement as my sister did stuff she never ever did before. She changed diapers, walked around with puke on her shirt, slept less, and played on the floor. These were all completely new experiences for her and she did them well. How? How could all of these previously viewed unappealing activities become second nature to this unexperienced new mom? It’s simply because her heart was full to flooding with love for her baby daughters. She thought about them and was with them 24/7. This love completely transformed her behaviors and customs without her having to work at it all.
I’ve done the same thing with my husband and my kids; we all have. We make dinners we don’t feel like eating, watch movies we have no interest in, and let our own personal upkeep take a backseat to the daily schedule. We do it automatically, gladly, and willingly, even miraculously. It’s not a chore and there’s no regret; it’s all done out of the ridiculous amount of love for our families flooding our hearts. It’s who we are: mom, wife, daughter, friend... fill in the blank with whatever is filling your heart.
So I can also store up incredible amounts of love for Jesus and let him filling my heart change me same as I’ve done in all the relationships I love. Start by just saying, “I love you, Jesus.” Or, write it down, sing it, read about him in the Bible, talk about him with other Believers. Doing this always and often allows him to just seep out of me same as motherhood seeped out of my sister.
Then, the afore mentioned “checklist” isn’t a checklist; it’s the description of Little Christs. It’s the product of who I am as a result of the One I love.
Dear Lord Jesus,
Checklists are hard for me to keep; thank you for not reducing our relationship to one. That would be hard for me everyday. But I do think about you and read about you and I do love you so much for who you are and all that you’ve done. Thank you for letting YOU change who I am. I love you, I love you, I love you very much and I just can’t thank you enough. And I pray in your name, amen.