DISCPLESHIP: My Model of Spiritual Life (2)

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My Spiritual Life Model:
My Relationship with
Myself

In all my spiritual pursuits with Jesus, I find that the most difficult person to deal with on earth is not anybody else, it is I myself. I am my own greatest enemy. Why? My answers are in view of the truths recorded by disciples and servants of God in the bible.

One of the main reasons is because I am a sinner. I am a born sinner. My sinful nature inside me always appears and challenges me to sin against myself, others and God. I am not denying the power of Jesus in forgiving my sin. I believe with all my heart, soul and determination that Jesus always does it for me. If not because of His forgiveness, I would have been very much worst than where I am now. His forgiveness of my sins has resulted in cleansing and purifying my sinful nature over and over again, leading towards living a life of perfection and holiness. I sin against myself, others and God less and less. However, when my sinful nature is awakened by temptations like pride, selfishness, greed, gluttony, lust and deception, I sin. All these lead me to sin against myself, others and God.

I come to terms with this and accept the fact as long as I am on earth and remain in flesh, I need to constantly deal with my sinful nature. In fact, Apostle Paul had this similar tension in his heart. In Romans 7:25 he says “Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” I may have the tension like Paul to sin but Jesus empowers me to overcome it. It is not once and for all , therefore, I constantly need Jesus to forgive me and for me to repent.

On the one hand, Jesus does His part to forgive me. On the other hand, I exercise my own will power to say no to sin, in order to defeat sins of all kinds. This is what I mean by I am my own greatest enemy.

Now, besides coming to terms with myself that I am vulnerable to sin, I find that I need to deal with myself in the following biblical ways. These biblical ways actually empower me to live peacefully with myself.

Firstly, since I am created in the image of God, it is my identity in Christ which no one can rob me of. My identity in Christ carries with it the entire heritage that God has for me. My mind is very clear about this. Therefore, when I doubt about God’s love for me in bad circumstances, during hard times, and even in crisis, as long as I hold on to my identity in Christ, I can always defeat the enemy within me.

Secondly, in view of my sinful nature, I always accept myself as someone who has weaknesses. When I blame myself and I dwell in self-pity with Christ in my heart I can stop it as soon as possible and move on in life. Some of my weaknesses are: lack wisdom in speech; impatience; being a good listener; being not a detailed person and I tend to overlook details; being not so sensitive to people’s needs; and being not able to be quiet before God and reflect. These weaknesses may lead me to sin against myself, others and God. Because they are there, I need to constantly depend on Jesus to remind me to be more aware of them, so that, I can allow other followers to complement me and serve with me. For this reason, I always believe in teamwork in ministry.

Thirdly, whatever my sins, mistakes, oversights, shortcomings, hurts, disappointments, frustrations, anger, sadness, anxieties, worries and stress, I always remind myself these things must bring me before Jesus and I need Jesus more than anything else to overcome them. In this way, I turn these so called negative things into great opportunities of spiritual growth or life learning lessons. Take for instance, I can make mistakes in my pronunciation of words in any language in preaching and private conversation, I allow others to correct me. I have trained myself not to feel embarrassed about it and be humble to learn to do it correctly. I am very willing to say sorry if I have wronged/hurt/offended someone. I believe the Spirit of Jesus who is inside me always reminds. This also enables me to make no enemy in my life. When I do so, I experience a real encounter with Jesus in my life.

I love what Apostle Paul says in Romans 13:14, “…clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the sinful nature.” I really have the sinful nature within me that I am constantly depending on Jesus to deal with it.

Through these biblical ways of dealing with myself, I experience peace and joy which Jesus promises to those whom He loves. As I accept myself in this biblical ways, I become strong, courageous, faithful, mature and powerful in Christ. It empowers me to relate to the people in the world with great confidence and faith. In fact, if I see myself in light of God’s attributes; if I accept myself by those biblical ways, then, I should do the same with others out there in the world.

My Spiritual Life Model:
My Relationship With
Others

I understand that relating to others is a huge lesson to learn in life. Jesus has so much to teach us on how to relate to others. I strongly believe that there is a great spirituality involved in doing so. If we relate well, we are spiritually stronger and become more matured. I see a great part of spirituality as relating to people. Jesus must be involved when we relate to people. A great part of Jesus’ teaching is about how we live with others. As I am a disciple of Jesus, whatever He taught through the four gospels (and what the whole bible says) I obey with all my heart, soul, and mind. I may not be there one hundred percent because I am a sinner. However, His teaching is always there for me to obey.

There are a lot of teachings of Jesus on how to relate to others. I am always reminded by the Spirit of Jesus on love your enemy by praying for them; do not revenge or pay back evil for evil; forgiving people seventy times seven times; forgive your brother from your heart; love your neighbor as yourself; whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did it for me; we have to give an account to God for every careless word spoken on earth; and if people slap your right cheek, and let the left side be slapped also.

Apostle Paul’s teaching on human relationship says “consider others better than yourself; it is Jesus who avenges, repays and judges; we reap what we sow; do not be a stumbling block to others; I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some; whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God; follow my example as I follow the example of Christ; and be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be men of courage, be strong, do everything in love.”

John Wesley who had written Old and New Testaments notes and sermons, urged His readers to practice perfect love by loving God with all their hearts, mind and might; and love your neighbor as you love yourself. I had researched his works. He had taught me how to relate to God, others and myself also. From the greatest and second commandments, he expounded on inner holiness and social holiness.

With regards to God in the person of Jesus, I practice inner holiness, works of piety, such as prayers, fasting, reading of bible, attending prayer meetings, services, attending small group or fellowship, praising God and singing spiritual songs and hymns. I see all these as means of grace which empowers us to draw close to God in holiness, whereby, I am affected to be Christ-like. All these means of grace are actually based on the word of God. They teach me to relate to God with humility, respect, and honor. They make sure I put Jesus first in my life.

As John Wesley taught me to love God with holiness, I make sure that I come before Jesus according to His standard of holiness as He taught in the scripture. I accept myself as Jesus accepts me. I constantly need Jesus to forgive me for my imperfection as John Wesley needed Jesus to forgive him. I would not condemn myself to hell if I fall short of His glory. I will just keep holding on to the hands of Jesus to expect Him to empower me to live a life of holiness.

As John Wesley taught according to the Scripture to practice inner holiness, he emphasized that it should lead to social holiness. Inner holiness, love of God should end with love of man, that is social in nature. We need to love our fellow human beings as commanded by Christ. John Wesley’s great deeds of visiting and ministering the prisoners, coal miners, the sick, poor and outcasts, had impacted my life very much. He would collect alms from the rich during winter even in his old age to help the poor and needy. He wrote on how to treat the different diseases and ailments and compiled them into a book! He built schools for the poor. He fought against slavery and injustice. All this, he did it throughout his life as part of his disciplined methodical lifestyle. With this kind of credibility and reputation, the robber who robbed him was given his Bible, in the end, the robber repented!

As John Wesley related to others by practicing Jesus’ command to reach out to the poor and needy, through social holiness, I do likewise. It is very holy to help the poor, the less fortunate, the imprisoned, the sick, to upgrade the education level of the uneducated, to speak against injustice, and to practice justice. In this way, I am doing mission on earth through practicing social holiness. Doing social works in Christ’s name is being holy.

I always pray that Jesus reminds me of His teachings and His word revealed to His servants when I relate to others so that I live harmoniously with them. When I treat and relate to others as Jesus directs me, I normally do this exercise in my mind, heart and soul. Jesus has blessed me with it all these years, so, I share with you now.

It is very much based on my spiritual life above. Whenever I face a conflict, a problem, a challenge, or some important decision to make I always ask Jesus to clear these three obstacles: Jesus, myself and others; they refer to the sins I have committed against them. For these three persons, I always ask: what does the word of God say about this matter? I do it because the word of God is my final authority for directing my life on earth. Let me illustrate.

How do I take disappointment with anybody (including my wife and children)?

This is how I use my spiritual life to deal with it. With regards to myself, bearing in mind my own sinful nature, I accept that I feel disappointed with someone. They may say or do something that hurts me. Therefore, with regards to others, whatever the cause of the offense, I exercise my obedience to God’s word by forgiving him or I say a prayer to bless him or leave him to God based on Apostle Paul teachings that it is up to God to avenge or repay or judge. I do not need to hate or show bitterness or having any hard feeling. I do not let the bad feelings rule me and Jesus’ word empowers me to do it.

I will also try to understand the reasons behind the hurt. I will ask questions like: Is he angry with me? Frustrated with me? There is misunderstanding/miscommunication somewhere? The devil is behind it? Jesus wants me to learn something here? I may not have the answers immediately. The answer(s) will come one day. Meanwhile, my immediate measure is to forgive so that I do not allow the devil a chance to attack me.

As I go to God in His word, I have honored Him and allowed Him to empower me to overcome disappointment. I have cleared the three obstacles.

As I practice this spiritual life model, accumulating all the positive and negative encounters with myself, others and Jesus, entrenching them deep in my system, I believe I can become a better person in Christ’s sight, and hopefully, also in people’s sight.

Conclusion

I believe I am constantly tested and tried as I try to live my spiritual life model. This model will grow to be more mature and accommodate more as I experience more and more of Jesus’ love, grace and mercy. I believe I can experience what Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesians Christians in Ephesians 3:16-19, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

As I learn to relate to Jesus, myself and others using the above spiritual model, I pray that I am able to experience the width, the length, the height and the depth of Christ’s love for me and for all mankind.

This spiritual life model governs all aspects of my life. It will affect every chapter that I am going to write from now on.
By Rev Law Hui Seng
En Tao Methodist Church, Sibu

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