Submission to Jesus: Where Real Change Takes Place
In a recent post, I described 10 guiding principles for discipleship at ECC. The 10 principles are not intended to be listed in a hierarchy, except for the very first one:
Submission to Jesus: Transformative change only begins in people when they joyfully submit to Jesus as King.
Discipleship is about change. Everyone wants to change. Some of us are more open than others about our need for change, but deep down inside we all can identify areas of our life that we wish were different. How does change really happen?
The world around us stresses that change happens when our behavior changes. So the world urges us to stop doing certain behaviors ("Stop driving recklessly"; "Stop cheating on the test"). But have you ever found that you "stopped" a certain behavior, but still craved it, in fact, you even still loved it? We can command obedience from a child, but is it their heart motivations that have changed or has just the outward behavior changed?
In our discipleship at ECC, we like to stress that transformative change (i.e. lasting change) only begins when people joyfully submit to Jesus as King. In doing so, they embrace the kingdom of Jesus (the gospel) in every area of their life through the power of the Holy Spirit. For sure, this does not happen all at once. It is a life time trajectory of growth and submission to Jesus.
See, you can change your outward behavior; you can stop doing those bad habits. But only submission to Jesus can change those desires that led to that outward behavior.
To be a disciple of Jesus means to pursue true humanity, that is, making God supreme over all things in your life and helping others do the same. This can be a painful and risky enterprise as a disciple, as often it exposes idols and sin in your heart that you would rather not face.
Since lasting change can only come through submitting to Jesus in all things, we call disciples to die to themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus. We identify and confront idols of the heart, not only outward behavior, in order to produce fruitful lives.
At ECC, we want to produce disciples who experience change. And to do this, we know that the most important thing we can do is to bring people closer and closer to the radiance and brilliance of Jesus. And as someone tastes the glory of Jesus, they develop a new appetite for the things of God...which leads to real, lasting change in their behavior.
As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:18,
And we all, with unveiled face, by beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image (i.e. the image of Jesus!) from one degree of glory to another.