What motivates your living for Jesus?
By Larry Platner
I wonder if you are like me when it comes to motivating yourself to follow Jesus? There was a time when I motivated myself with a list of what I believed I needed to do. It consisted of commands to obey, attitudes to change, disciplines to maintain, sins to overcome and on it went. Not only did I find it hard to maintain my motivation over time but I also tended toward a legalistic approach which wasn’t joyful but a burden. What to do?
Basis for my motivation
I discovered that the problem lay with the basis for my motivation. There were a number of ways that I motivated myself. One was looking at the lives of others, both Christians I knew and Christians I read about. Their lives were an inspiration but also a standard I felt I should live up to; that I should be like them.
Another was Biblical commandments and top of the list was the Great Commission, “therefore go and make disciples of all nations”. This meant I needed to talk to others about Jesus. Being an introvert with a poor self image this was a Mount Everest to climb! I barely made it to base camp much less climb the heights and reach the peak.
Another was guilt over my sins and its close companion, shame. I feared others discovering my sins. “Better get myself sorted out before they find out what I’m really like.”
These were my ways of motivating myself to become the Christian I believed I should be.
Recognising who we are
All of us are susceptible to these ways of motivation. A tendency we have is to be doers, seeking to become someone. Accepting Christ did change my life but soon I had my ‘to do’ list to motivate myself to become a good Christian. Where I had gone wrong was getting the order of doing and being wrong. Rather than doing to become, it is in being that I do. In Christ I am who I am meant to be and my doing is a living out of who I already am.
Our motivation for following Christ is to come from recognising who we are. We discover this by looking at God. By looking at each person of the Trinity we have a picture of who we are. Here are just a few characteristics of each the persons of God that describe who we are. There is much more.
You ARE His creation, made by Him in His image.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
You ARE a son or daughter of God.
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. Romans 8:15-16
As God’s creation, His children, this makes us a family of God. You belong, you are unique, you are wanted.
Our Lord Jesus
You ARE a servant.
But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26-28
You ARE created for good works
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
You ARE sent.
Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” John 20:20-21
You are uniquely made by God, sent by Him as his servant to do the good works He has prepared for you.
You ARE loved.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. John 15:9
You are loved in the same way that the Father loved Jesus.
The Holy Spirit
You ARE empowered and changed by the Holy Spirit who dwells within you.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
It is not through self-will that you live for Jesus but by the enabling of the Holy Spirit who lives in you.
Living out who we are in Christ
We ARE God’s creation, adopted as His child into a family, servants sent by God with a life time of works that God has ordained especially for us. We ARE loved and in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit who enables us to live out who we ARE in Christ.
The commandments such as to make disciples and love our neighbours are not rules by which we seek to become who we think we should be or to please God. Rather they are God’s instructions for living out who we already are in Christ. By obeying these commands we become more fully human, living out whom God created us to be. This as a basis for motivation to follow Christ is truly liberating, fulfilling and a source of great joy in our lives.