I’m not sure how I missed it for so many years:
Following Jesus is mostly about learning to live well—to become a fully mature human being.
It doesn’t preclude God from placing some special calling on your life, a unique job for you to do. But more important than what God might call you to do is the kind of person God is calling you to be.
If you are not becoming the fully mature person God is calling you to be, you are limiting what you can do in service to Christ.
Here are four key areas where you, as Jesus’ disciple, can learn to live well, to become a fully mature human being.
1. Embrace your identity. You are a tarnished image-bearer. While you have the innate capacity to reflect the glory of the Creator, you also have an awkward and sometimes shameful tendency to project your own brokenness instead. The beginning of learning to live well is to embrace the fact of both your glory and your shame. Some people struggle to see the ways they introduce brokenness into others’ lives; others find it harder to recognize their God-given potential. Whichever tendency you may have, being a disciple means embracing your identity as a broken person in whom God is restoring the capacity to reflect his glory.
2. Make yourself at home. Yes, I know about the old song, “This World Is Not My Home.” But the thing is, this world is your home—now and forever—even as it is scheduled for renovation. To live well includes figuring out what it means to live in your corner of the world so that it becomes your home. So that you care deeply about the prosperity, beauty, and health of the place where you live. So that you give back as much as or more than you receive. Following Jesus includes learning to be a genuine nurturer and cultivator of a place, rather than a conqueror, exploiter, or slave.
3. Have affection for those around you. It’s part of Jesus’ greatest commandment: to love God and love one another. Being a follower of Jesus means learning to live in community, not just with those with whom you worship, but with those who live closest to you. Cultivate affection for those whose lives intersect yours, in your home and in your neighborhood. Affection strengthens relationships and takes some of the edge off of conflicts and disagreement. Affection smooths over and neutralizes a great many potential offenses. Living well includes learning to relate well to those who are in proximity to you.
4. Make peace with God. We could have started the list here. But too often, starting here, we end here too. After all, if you have peace with God, what more do you need? Or so we think. But living well—becoming a fully mature person—is more than simply having peace with God, as important as that is. Peace with God, if it truly takes root, will spread out into all your other relationships—with yourself, with your place, and with your neighbors.
The thing is that peace with God is not a peace we can negotiate; it is only available on his terms. But the terms are extremely advantageous to our side.