You would’ve struggled to convince Peter when Jesus called him to be His disciple during that fateful encounter by the shores of Lake Galilee that one day, his shadow would heal people as he walked by [Luke 5:1-11, Acts 5:15]. I suspect that even if he began to embrace becoming a fisher of men as his relationship with Jesus grew, he abandoned the thought after denying he knew Jesus [Matthew 26:69-75]. But little did Peter know that his three years with Jesus hadn’t been in vain. As Peter fellowshipped with Jesus, experiencing His Messianic ministry first-hand, something intangible but evidently genuine was happening to Peter. Peter was becoming the man Jesus said he’d become if he followed Him. The world witnessed the manifestation of Jesus’s prophetic words on Pentecost day when Peter’s sermon brought three thousand souls to the faith [Acts 2:41]. He became a fisher of men for the rest of his life [Luke 5:10].
One of my pursuits this year is intimacy with God. I want to know Him better and become more valuable to His purposes. For a goal-oriented person like me, such an objective can quickly dissolve into a regimented religious to-do list. So, if I’m not watchful, spiritual activities can become tick-box exercises rather than transforming experiences in God’s presence [Psalm 84:7]. One way to guard against this is realising that God is more interested in who we become than what we do because what we do, especially when no one is looking or prompting us, typically shows who we are. I enjoyed one of the best experiences of parenthood a few weeks ago when another parent stopped me in the school car park to praise my son for giving up his spot on the football team to her son. My son loves his football. So, that was a huge sacrifice, but remarkably, he didn’t mention it to anyone at home. I only found out when his friend’s mum told me. My son had put the needs of another before his without being prompted [Philippians 2:4]. I was more pleased he did that of his accord than I would’ve been if he’d done it after I’d asked him to do so. I believe God wants something similar for His children.
God engrafts believers into His family [Ephesians 2:19], and there’s a precise blueprint of who we’re to become: Jesus [Romans 8:29, Ephesians 4:13]. There’s a simple reason for this. If your goal is to do what pleases God, become like the One who pleased Him most [Mark 1:11], and you’ll naturally do the things that please God. What Jesus did during His earthly ministry reflected His intimacy with the Father [John 5:19]. We’ll emulate His works if we develop a similar relationship with the Father [John 14:12]. However, attaining such intimacy requires submitting ourselves to God and His word – intentionally creating space in our lives for spiritual disciplines like studying the Scriptures, praying, fasting, fellowshipping with other believers and listening to teaching that builds us up [Acts 2:42]. It’s a daily, sacrificial process where God slowly but deliberately makes us more Christlike [Ephesians 1:5]. Although the transformation is on His terms, our level of submission and commitment is also a rate-limiting step [Philippians 2:12-13].
It’s easy to see why a to-do list or being told what to do is more attractive than the slow work of transformation. I guess there’s a feel-good factor in doing as we’re told. We may even feel spiritual. But it’ll be somewhat mechanical and temporary if our actions don’t reflect who we are. Besides, God’s interest in us far exceeds who we are from time to time. As a parent, I won’t always be there to tell my kids what to do in every situation. As such, I’m intentionally raising them to know and make the right decision in the specific scenario before them. Even if they fail to make the right decision on an occasion, because of who they’ve become, they’ll make the right choices more often than not. While God is always present and could tell us what to do in every situation, I suspect He doesn’t because that would hinder our growth and creativity. Instead, He says: “This is what I’m like, become like Me” [Matthew 16:24]. So, as we follow Him, immersing ourselves in His mindset [Philippians 2:5], our self-centred desires and ambitions will decrease, and we’ll naturally embrace His will more and create avenues for His purposes to manifest in our lives [John 3:30]. That’s what happened to Peter.
The truth is everyone is conforming to someone’s image consciously or unconsciously. The question is: who are you becoming? Our lives are a composite of our choices, and those choices are a reflection of who we are and what we know. So, if you want to know who you’re becoming, examine your decisions and the origins of the ideologies that birth those decisions because we ultimately become products of the voices we heed. As believers, we must deliberately make God’s still, small voice the loudest in our lives by spending quality time with Him. If it isn’t, we may occasionally do the right things, but when the chips are down, we may find it doesn’t come naturally to be Christlike because there’s a louder voice with more influence over our lives.
Thankfully, we have the option to choose the voices we let in and, as such, who we become. So, I encourage you to pursue intimacy with God primarily because you want to know and please Him after all He’s done for you [Philippians 3:10]. As you fellowship with Him, you’ll become who He created you to be. He’ll also write His word on Your heart, so you’ll know what to do in every situation to bring Him glory like Peter [Jeremiah 31:33].