Before, there was
Selfishness. Anger. Insecurity.
A need for approval.
But then there was
And so there came
Peace. Grace. Mercy.
Humility. Joy. Freedom.
Hope in being eternally
by the God of the universe
as His chosen daughter;
Made new by the sacrifice of His Son,
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.
- Galatians 2:20a
When I realized that Jesus chose me - and that He did so for much more than to casually claim association with His name - I chose Him.
And it has made all the difference.
But the life change that happened when I chose Jesus didn’t stop at a momentary point of conversion. In fact, that’s really when the life change began. The very moment we accept Christ, we are simultaneously forever changed in an instant while also propelled into this new journey, empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit, being continually changed in an everyday process.
This is the difference between two Bible terms called justification and sanctification. Justification is being declared righteous in the eyes of God because of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, and it is a one-time occurrence at the point of salvation. Sanctification is the ongoing, Holy Spirit-guided, Scripture-rooted process of removing sin and refining Christian hearts to be holy or set apart; this keeps going until we finally get to Heaven.
And every day, the sanctification part involves a battle in our hearts: we are faced, moment by moment, with decisions to choose Jesus or choose ourselves. Paul talks a little bit about this in Galatians 5:16-17, 22-25:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do....But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Walk by the Spirit. Let us keep in step with the Spirit. These are the things that lead to fruitful lives, that keep us from living selfishly and help us to grow more like Jesus. And “walking” and “keeping in step,” while both clearly enabled by the life-giving Holy Spirit, call for action on our part. Here, we see a discipline of choosing to walk, choosing to keep in step. Choosing Jesus. Choosing isn’t always easy. Discipline isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be exhausting, it can seem risky, and it can mean sacrificing our comfort. But when it’s Jesus we’re choosing and His disciplines we’re cultivating, choosing is always worth it. Jesus is always better than whatever it is we’re struggling to choose Him over; whether it’s sleep, school work, relationships, food, or some other thing (good or bad), Jesus is always better.
One more beautiful truth to note is that, even when we fail to choose Jesus in our daily battles as Christians, He is still our Savior, He still loves us, and He will never un-choose us. Because of this - since His choosing of us does not depend on our ability to choose Him - we are freed to choose Him in the Spirit’s power; to rejoice in Him when we do choose Jesus, to rest in His grace when we fail to, and to, every moment in between, give glory to, tell all about, and delight in our God.