Can I tell you a little secret about my blog’s tagline: Seeking the Life God Intended? I wrote it unsure what “the life God intended” really meant (hence, why it says “seeking” and not “living”).
I wanted a life full of joy. A life only found when we align ourselves with God’s will. But I wondered, what did God intend for me? How did he want me to grow? What did he want me to do?
Recently, I thought I got close to an answer. While reading 1 Thessalonians 4, I wrote down in my journal:
If I am living the life God intended (“It is God’s will that you…” 1Thess. 4:3), I need to:
- Keep myself from sexual promiscuity
- Learn to appreciate and give dignity to my body
- Don’t wrong other people or take advantage of them.
- Get along with others, loving them more and more.
- Stay calm.
- Mind your own business
- Do your job.
As I kept reading, I found more instructions in 1 Thessalonians 5:
- Encourage one another and build each other up
- Respect those who work hard
- Live in peace with each other
- Warn those who are idle
- Encourage the timid
- Help the Weak
- Be patient with everyone
- Be kind.
- Be joyful always.
- Give thanks in all circumstances.
- Test everything.
- Hold on to the good and avoid every kind of evil.
While not new information, these chapters offered practical guidance (my favorite kind!) on areas of life everyone could improve upon. In fact, Paul tells the Thessalonians, “you are already doing these things but we want to encourage you to do them ever better” (my paraphrase of 1 Thes. 4:1).
But was this really the life God intended? Following a list of rules and instructions?
Perhaps being drilled with “Christianity is not a set of rules” during my childhood made me doubt this was the answer I sought. I also still lacked clarity on what God intended for me; even after reading and writing down all these rules and instructions on how to live.
So I continued to seek, until God brought revelation in the form of a sermon.
I can’t even remember how this tied in, but during a sermon on the book of Lamentations, the pastor quoted Romans 8:29:
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
Finally, the light bulb turned on. God intends for us to be conformed into the image of Jesus.
The Bible gives us this message over and over again:
“The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” 1 John 2:6
“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1
“Therefore, be imitators of God…” Ephesians 5:1
Now, I already knew the Bible instructed us to act like Jesus. I even rocked a W.W.J.D bracelet in sixth grade. But Romans 8:29 doesn’t say to act like Jesus, it says to conform to Jesus.
What is the difference?
Go back and read the lists I created from 1 Thessalonians 4-5. Did you notice how it gives an accurate description of Jesus? Yet, Jesus did not have this list written out for him. He didn’t have a manual on “how to live.” He did all these things and more as a result of his character.
God wants the same from us. Just following the rules doesn’t fulfilling God’s purpose for us. He wants us to conform to the image of Christ in order to transform us.
So as we seek the life God intended, we are actually seeking transformation. Therefore, what we do is not as important as who we become.
So let me ask you, are you busy checking off all the boxes of the things you should do? Or are you looking for ways to become more like Jesus?
I am far too guilty of the former, but God calls us to a different life, a transformed life…the life he intended for us.