God wants to transform you more and more into Christ's likeness. But He won't force His power on you. If you're passive about your relationship with Him, you can't expect to grow. God is looking for an invitation from you. He wants you to show Him you're serious about a relationship with Him by being willing to follow wherever He leads. Only then will you experience His transforming power.
Here's how your decisions to live faithfully can invite God's transforming power into your life:
Seek true life. Don't look for life anywhere else but in a relationship with Jesus Christ, whose life is the light of humankind, revealing God the Father to us. Understand that everything necessary to create, sustain, and transform you flows through Christ. His Spirit working in you is the spirit of the perfect child toward the perfect father. Just as Christ laid down His life, decide to lay down your own life in obedience to Him, sacrificing your own agenda and embracing His plans for your life. Trust that, in doing so, you will open yourself up to a better life than you could ever hope to live on your own.
Embrace an abundant life. Remember that Christ came to supply all that you lack. Make God your all in all, and rely on His unlimited power. When you feel discouraged, weary, or doubtful, pray for the courage, strength, and faith to rouse yourself and fight rather than giving up. Decide that you won't settle for a mediocre life, but that, no matter what your circumstances, you will constantly pursue a richer and fuller life than ever before. Don't limit God's plans for you. Ask Him to keep you growing.
Deny yourself to find rewards in Christ. Decide to reject all ways of thinking that are not divinely inspired - ways that don't take God into account and don't set His will supreme as the only law of life. Choose God's ways over the ways of our fallen world. Rather than asking, "What would I like to do?," ask "What would God like me to do?" in every situation. Don't let your own ambition rule your heart. Do nothing to please other people that wouldn't please God. Don't place your trust in money or any other worldly resource. Understand that everything you have is a gift from God, and trust in God alone. Deny your fears and have faith in God's power to accomplish whatever He wants to in your life. Forsake falsehood in all its forms and pursue the living truth that can only be found in Christ. Realize that no great works or sacrifices of your own can possibly be great enough to earn you a closer relationship with God. Give God what He's really looking for - an obedient heart that is willing to do whatever He asks, every day. Then expect to experience pure joy, directly from the source of all that is good.
Break free. Don't let sin hold you a prisoner in your own life. Know that Christ died not to save us from suffering, but from ourselves, not from injustice, but from being unjust. Understand that we are all slaves to either sin or to God, but that when we're slaves to God, we're also free, because we can master sin through His help. Realize that Christ alone can break sin's destructive power over you in the midst of our fallen world. Get to know Christ, who embodies truth, and let that truth set you free by deciding to listen to His voice rather than sin's urging.
Cry, "Abba, Father!" Don't be afraid to approach God like the beloved child of His you are. Know that He wants you to develop into a true son or daughter, who feels at home with God and begins to think like Him and feel with Him. Understand that this is possible when you invited His Holy Spirit to live inside you. No matter how your human father or mother may have failed you, believe that your heavenly Father will never let you down. Embrace God as your Father by choosing to obey Him out of love.
Recognize the difference between opinion and truth. Understand that you don't truly know anything unless God reveals it to you. Humble yourself enough to realize that even your most dearly held opinions can change if they're not firmly rooted in divinely revealed truth. Cling to the living God rather than your opinions. Don't let that which is merely human obscure the divine. Don't waste time or energy arguing with other people over your opinions, no matter how strongly you hold them. Instead, pray that if your opinions are true, God Himself will reveal that to the people you would like to be convinced of them. Spread truth not just by talking about it, but by living it out in front of others so they can see God's light shining brightly through your life. Remember that the more you love God, the more His truth will emanate from you.
Mirror Christ's likeness. Ask the Holy Spirit to live inside you and invite Him to change you, so that over time you develop more and more into someone whose life mirrors the way Christ lived on earth. Ask God to infuse you with His light so you can reflect it to others. Shine God's light as brightly as you can by living in obedience to Him, motivated by love. Know that doing so will dispel the darkness of this world around you and cause other people to want to follow the light themselves.
Look forward to the resurrection. View your current, mortal body simply as a tool for learning how to draw closer to God while you're on earth. Know that it will pass away when you leave this world, like an old garment that's discarded for a new and better one - your glorified resurrection body. Trust that, as you choose to be obedient to God, He will respond by revealing more and more of Himself to you. That revelation begins here on earth and will continue forever in heaven. Start now by following God, the Creator and Master of your body and your entire life.
Adapted from Your Life in Christ: The Nature of God and His Work in Human Hearts, copyright 2005 by George MacDonald, edited by Michael Phillips. Published by Bethany House Publishers, Bloomington, Mn., www.bethanyhouse.com.
George MacDonald (1824-1905), the Scottish Victorian writer, began his adult life as a clergyman. After a short career in the pulpit, he turned to writing, and with publication of his novels in the 1860s, he became widely known throughout Britain and the United States. He wrote some 50 books, in addition to his novels, including poetry, short stories, sermons, and essays.
Michael Phillips is a best-selling author with more than 70 of his own titles and editor/redactor of nearly 30 more books. He is known as one of the foremost MacDonald experts in the world. In addition to the MacDonald titles adapted/edited for today's readers, his publishing efforts in bringing back full-length quality facsimile editions also spawned renewed interest in MacDonald's original work. Michael and his wife, Judy, spend much of their time in Scotland, while making their home in California.