Obstacles to Transformation (part 3)

(This is the third in a series of posts about why spiritual transformation is impeded, blocked, and short-circuited in our lives. You can read Part 1  and Part 2 here.)

Don't worry about what ______ does, worry about what YOU do.

Donor-Management-Software-ComparisonIt is one of the primary tools in the parental playbook - the standard "comparison parenting defense." I have been on the receiving end of this phrase, and I have now become a distributor as well.

I admit it. I'm becoming like my parents.

In a culture where the lives of others are in full view, often with interesting consequences related to how we see our own health and success and vitality, the comparison living problem seems to be expanding.

It happens in relation to the size of our homes. The glitz of our possessions. And yes, dangerously it happens in our spiritual lives.

The Apostle Peter was involved in some of the most bizarre encounters with Jesus in His lifetime. From the miraculous strangeness of walking on water, the coronation that leads to confrontation at Caesarea Philippi (the "rock" suddenly becomes an obstacle), there are moments of distinction that insure we know Peter better than any of the other disciples.

For me, there is one that stands above the others.

Jesus has risen and is meeting the disciples on the beach for breakfast. Peter in an exasperated joyfulness jumps off the fishing boat and swims to Jesus on the shore. As they eat, the time arrives for Jesus to speak to Peter about "that which we'd rather not talk about." The denial. Rooster crows three times. Wasn't sure I'd see you again.

The reinstatement of Peter is one of the more touching scenes in the Gospels, but it is what happens next that makes this scene so interesting and unique.

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:20-23, NIV)

Comparison. I got grilled, Jesus, what about this guy?

We are a culture of comparison - comparison drives nearly all marketing (this is their life, that is your life, this product can bridge the gap) and inherently all of the traditional "seven deadly symptoms."

Peter wanted to know whether things were equally spread - whether the challenge was as steep for the others, the level of accountability was as high for the others, whether he was being held to something that no one else was being held to.

Jesus says, "What's it to you?"

The third obstacle to our transformation is the battering ram to our comparison spirituality. 

The third obstacle to transformation is a lack of self-leadership. 

As in the last post, you realize this isn't a question of self-reliance. We aren't talking about earning anything here.

Yet there is a distinct and immediate need for followers of Jesus to toss the compulsion of comparison and begin swinging the machete of discipleship to blaze a new trail through deciding - daily, monthly, and hourly - to follow Him. To be with Him to learn to be like Him.

Transformation isn't accidental, as I said before, but it can be incidental in that transformation happens in the ebb and flow of real life. However, we have a response to make. We have a choice, a decision, of how we'll respond.

Self-leadership is the art of saying, "This is what it will take for me to follow Jesus - this is what it will look like for my life to be conformed to His - to live as He would live if He had my life."

Self-leadership helps us admit that we are responsible for partnering with God in our own transformation.

Self-leadership is driven by vision (more on that later).

Self-leadership helps us take bold strides with our time.

Self-leadership helps us stand apart from the culture of comparison and see what really matters.

Self-leadership helps us understand what wise counsel really is and helps us seek it with all intensity.

The question for today is this: what is leading you? Are you taking an active role in charting a course that decimates comparison and celebrates the distinctive gifts and situations that define "you-as-follower-of-Jesus?"

One way to gauge this is to reflect on what events, moments, or situations have been the most impactful in your life this week. Where did they come from? How did you respond? Where was God in that moment, and how can self-leadership move you into more intentional moments of transformation with Christ?