Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1
I overheard a conversation recently, in which the name of Jesus was brought up in the context of him not approving of a something the person speaking had done. The other individual in the conversation objected, insisting that Jesus just wants us to be ourselves. The implication was that the first individual shouldn’t feel guilty or judged by Jesus, because Jesus would be fine with any behavior, as long as one is true to oneself. You do you.
It’s a nice thought. I’d like to believe that God wants for me all the things I naturally want. It doesn’t take much introspection or thought however, to see how absurd that is. What if I want to sleep around? What would my wife say if I told her Jesus just wanted me to be true to myself? What if I want to start using drugs again? You do you – in this context – is ridiculous and disastrous.
Often, we simply believe what we want to believe because it’s easier than the truth. The truth is our way doesn’t naturally lead us towards God, but rather, away from him and towards ourselves. Even if we never engage in drug abuse, following our way separates us from the loving relationship with God for which we were made. Only in following God’s way, abandoning and sacrificing our own, do we truly find the life, joy, and peace for which we were made.
In today’s passage, Paul said we must have higher goals. We’re not to settle for the lowered expectations of simply doing what comes natural to us. Rather, like Paul, we’re to abandon ourselves and follow Christ. The problem, if you know anything about Paul’s life, is that most of us don’t want his life. Paul gave up everything, including his head, for his faith.
The fallacy we’ve accepted, is that it’s easier, more pleasurable, and therefore right to follow our way. Our way though, leads eventually and inevitably to misery, emptiness, and sorrow. Paradoxically, if we truly want to find ourselves, becoming the best version of us that we were made to be, we’ll find that only in imitating and following Christ. The surest route to misery is to simply do whatever we want. The surest way to life, joy, and peace, is to do whatever God wants.