I’m currently taking a few college classes, and one of those is a religion class. In that class, we’re asked to choose an attribute of Jesus Christ, and find ways to become more like Christ. We are to focus on that attribute in our scripture study, and find ways to grow in that attribute. We are also, of course, to pray for help.
This week, we were asked to think about opportunities we have to become more like Christ, and then to determine 4 things we could purposefully do to grow in that way. We were asked to find opportunities to change. I know, from what I’ve experienced personally and from what I’ve seen others experience, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can change people. In Ezekiel 36, versus 26 and 27 we read:
(26) A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. (27) And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
If you read these verses casually, without looking at the rest of revealed scripture, you might think that God is going to do all the work, that He is going to replace our heart, and make us obey His laws. I personally believe that our loving Heavenly Father is going to do all that he can do for us, without taking away our individual choice and accountability. He does all that he can for us by giving us opportunities.
Experience shows that God is not going to force anyone. Look at the interactions between Judas Iscariot and Jesus Christ: Judas was an apostle, he was close to the Savior, he had every opportunity to follow Jesus. And even with all of that, Jesus did not force him to choose what was right. He did not expose Judas’ heart and make him change it. Jesus did not use His endless power to force Judas to change.
Likewise in our lives, God will give us every possible opportunity to change, but he will not force us. He also expects that we are going to do our part by studying, praying, believing, and acting. We aren’t to sit on a couch and wait for God to change our heart, or drop opportunity in our lap. We are to walk the roads of life, and look for opportunities to become more like Christ. We are to help the Samaritan brother, the one that doesn’t believe as we do, along our way. We are to fill our lamps with oil, not wait for someone else to give us their oil. We are to invest our talents, and make them grow for when the Master asks for an accounting. We are to seek out the lost sheep. We are to work in the vineyard, no matter how late we feel we’ve arrived.
All of these parables that the Savior gave us demonstrate followers that were willing to act. We can’t sit around waiting for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to change our hearts and our lives. We have to “follow” the master, actively and enthusiastically, if we ever want to become more like Him.
I know that we can do it. Though we are expected to act, we are not left alone. Christ has promised us “another comforter,” even his Holy Spirit, to help us find the way. I know that Jesus Christ walked the earth, and that He lives today. I know that we will be given every opportunity to become more like Him, but that He expects us to take the opportunities he gives us, and do all that we can with them. My prayer is that we will all be more open to those opportunities, and that we will all work harder to seek them out, no matter how hard they might be to find.