Vandalia United Methodist Church

From the Pastor's Study

Seeking to Be Like Christ

“W. W. J. D.” has been a popular wrist band for Christians to wear. The initials stand for “What would Jesus do?” Such a reminder helps the wearer stop and think before he or she says or does something that would be against Christ’s teachings. Many times, after having said or done something I regretted, I wished I would have asked myself that question.

There was a period of time a few years back when I noticed a significant change in myself. I had looked back over past actions and recognized my behavior with a new perspective. I seemed to have grown in many ways. Hopefully, I am doing a better job of paying attention to past actions and meeting future challenges with a different approach, the way Jesus would want me to act.

As I tried to make sense of what is going on, I thought maybe God is preparing me for something challenging. Then it dawned on me – the Spirit led me to see – the changes I was experiencing came out of my own prayer life. For many months my consistent prayer had been “to have the heart and mind of Jesus.” I know that’s a bold request, but isn’t that what each one of us is called to have? If I can see situations in the way Jesus sees them and respond in the way Jesus would respond, then I am on the right path to building the church on earth.

Recognizing my own weaknesses, I have asked God to take away my desire to sin. Let me use dieting as an example. I can try to will myself away from the food I crave and know I should not eat, or I can ask that the cravings be taken away. The changes are not in trying to rely on my own power to change but to rely on God’s power to change me. I can think of no better way to change and become more Christ-like than to change from within and desire that which is of God.

The disciplines of our faith are essential in this process. Without regular habits that keep me in touch with God, I drift away. I have included fasting as a part of my regular spiritual disciplines for many years. When I am fasting, I am hungry as I constantly crave food. As I am constantly craving, I remember why I am hungry and that is to grow in my relationship with God. Fasting has become an important part of my regular spiritual disciplines. When I feel I have drifted away from God, the tool of fasting is a quick way to get back in touch. Other essential disciplines include reading the Scriptures, praying, meditating, having fellowship with other Christians, worshiping, studying, partaking in holy communion, and the like. Any habit that draws you closer to God is identified as a “means of grace” or spiritual discipline that draws you closer to God.

The church runs on a liturgical calendar that somewhat follows the life of Christ, preparing for his birth in Advent, preparing for his death and resurrection during Lent, and then studying his teachings during the season after Pentecost. Therefore, as we prepare ourselves for celebration of his resurrection on Easter, the season of Lent is a time for us to reincorporate our spiritual disciplines into our lives. The goal is that we may become more like Christ, having his heart and mind, saying and doing as he would do. As you practice these disciplines you will find that God will move you into a new place, where you no longer desire to stray from his path. There is such peace and joy once you are on that path. I hope that you will join me in the journey.

In Christ’s love,

9:30 AM Worship Service
10:40 AM Sunday School

First United Methodist Church of Vandalia :: 618.283.3684