By Brie Gowen
I recently had a friend who was born again, and after her strong coming to Christ she was eager to begin her Christian walk. She knew she desired to live for Christ, and one of her first orders of business was to stop smoking. This was her personal conviction from God, but she became distressed when her cravings didn’t cooperate with her desire to quit. Unable to put them down overnight she became discouraged and couldn’t understand why the need for smoking didn’t miraculously leave her when she rededicated her life to Jesus. I had to explain that true change, the kind God gives, doesn’t happen like magic. Heart change takes a bit of time.
I had been there before myself. I had been a woman who loved Jesus, but smoked two packs a day. I also had been known to enjoy a tasty brew from time to time. No, let’s be honest. It was more like 12-18 tasty brews a day, and if that’s not excessive then I don’t know what is. I still believed that Jesus died for my sins, and I think that if I would have died in a drunken crash I’d probably wind up in heaven. But my life was the pits.
Some things in our life, and I don’t care if you’re talking about porn or over-spending, can place a wedge between us and a solid, close relationship with God. You can live a saved life, but it’s not a full life. Does that make sense?
When you decide to live for the Lord and embrace God’s word there are certain aspects of your life that don’t fit. And if you try to make them fit they hold you back from seeing God’s face, experiencing the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and living an abundant life.
But here’s the thing. Change doesn’t happen overnight. God convicted me for some time before I decided to turn from the things He was telling me weren’t right, and even then it was a battle of flesh. It takes time to rid your life of sin, but as you press in closer to the Lord, praying, reading your Bible, and simply listening, I think He begins to transform your identity.
I have experienced a radical transformation over the past seven years, and my writing is an excellent way for me to look back and see the small changes that happened over time.
Addictions were broken.
What I wore changed.
The music I listened to changed.
What I watched on TV changed.
What I spoke from my mouth changed.
My personality began to change slowly. Normally an introvert, I began to try and smile more, greet strangers, and offer kind words like I read Jesus did.
None of this happened immediately, and God is certainly not done yet. Like an onion my life is being pulled back layer by layer, and as the Lord convicts I change. By no power of my own.
When you decide not just to be a “Christian,” but to be a lover of Jesus you change because you want to, not because someone tells you to. You wish to please God because He has given you so much, and your life takes on a new appearance. Or it should.
You speak in kindness, you give more freely, and you are slow to anger. I’m still working on that last one, and God convicts and refines my character as I seek Him about these issues in prayer.
Currently the Lord is working and changing mine and my husband’s view on movies we watch and holidays we celebrate, but in each person He also works differently.
If there’s anything I’ve learned in my life as a Christian it’s that there’s many degrees of it. What I mean is you can believe in the Lord, but perhaps not be walking in a way that runs perfectly in line with the teachings of God’s word. But then also we all walk our own path with Jesus. In Romans 14 it cautions against judging another believer for what they choose to eat or not eat, etc., explaining that these disputable matters weren’t that big of an issue in the grand scheme of believing in the Lord. But it did go on to caution about how your life could affect someone else.
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. 13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.
Many of the changes I make in life and actions I take are based on being a good representative of God’s family. That is my personal conviction, and it drives how I speak with any and every one. I decided to let Christ transform my life, and I hope it shows on the outside. Not for my glory, but for His.
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”
When you are a Christian you believe Christ died for your sins, but when you love Jesus you obey His teaching. And as you do, little by little, day by day, I believe He miraculously changes your life. You are not the same, but instead you have been made new. People should be able to see it. They should see it in your countenance, and also in your every action. That is how a Christ-loving Christian looks different.
About the Author: Brie Gowen is a 30-something (sliding ever closer to 40-something) wife and mother. When she’s not loving on her hubby, chasing after the toddler or playing princess with her four-year-old, she enjoys cooking, reading and writing down her thoughts to share with others. Brie is also a huge lover of Jesus. She finds immense joy in the peace a relationship with her Savior provides, and she might just tell you about it sometime. She’d love for you to check out her blog at BrieGowen.com.